COMMENTARY Measurements of Individual Radiation Doses in Residents Living Around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

Shigenobu NagatakiNoboru TakamuraKenji Kamiya  and Makoto Akashi

At the outset of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, the radiation doses experienced by residents were calculated from the readings at monitoring posts, with several assumptions being made from the point of view of protection and safety. However, health effects should also be estimated by obtaining measurements of the individual radiation doses. The individual external radiation doses, determined by a behavior survey in the “evacuation and deliberate evacuation area” in the first 4 months, were <5 mSv in 97.4% of residents (maximum: 15 mSv). Doses in Fukushima Prefecture were <3 mSv in 99.3% of 386,572 residents analyzed. External doses in Fukushima City determined by personal dosimeters were <1 mSv/3 months (September–November, 2011) in 99.7% of residents (maximum: 2.7 mSv). Thyroid radiation doses, determined in March using a NaI (TI) scintillation survey meter in children in the evacuation and deliberate evacuation area, were <10 mSv in 95.7% of children (maximum: 35 mSv). Therefore, all doses were less than the intervention level of 50 mSv proposed by international organizations. Internal radiation doses determined by cesium-134 (134C) and cesium-137 (137C) whole-body counters (WBCs) were <1 mSv in 99% of the residents, and the maximum thyroid equivalent dose by iodine-131 WBCs was 20 mSv. The exploratory committee of the Fukushima Health Management Survey mentions on its website that radiation from the accident is unlikely to be a cause of adverse health effects in the future. In any event, sincere scientific efforts must continue to obtain individual radiation doses that are as accurate as possible. However, observation of the health effects of the radiation doses described above will require reevaluation of the protocol used for determining adverse health effects. The dose-response relationship is crucial, and the aim of the survey should be to collect sufficient data to confirm the presence or absence of radiation health effects. In particular, the schedule of decontamination needs reconsideration. The decontamination map is determined based on the results of airborne monitoring and the radiation dose calculated from readings taken at the monitoring posts at the initial period of the accident. The decontamination protocol should be reevaluated based on the individual doses of the people who desire to live in those areas.

Received: March 2, 2013; Accepted: July 26, 2013 ;Published Online: October 18, 2013

1Address for correspondence: Department of Global Health, Medicine and Welfare, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University, 1-12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki 852-8523, Japan; e-mail: .