Thyroid Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Accident

Shigenobu Nagataki



A special report, ‘The Fukushima Accident’, was delivered at the 35th Annual Meeting of the European Thyroid Association in Krakow on September 11, 2011, and this study is the follow-up of the special report.


To present a preliminary review of potential thyroid consequences of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor accident.


Numerous new data have been presented in Japanese, and most of them are available on the website from each research institute and/or from each municipality. The review was made using these data from the website.


When individual radiation doses were expressed as values in more than 99% of residents, radiation doses by behavior survey in evacuation and deliberate evacuation areas were less than 10 mSv in the first 4 months, and internal radiation doses measured by whole body counters were less than 1 mSv/year. Individual thyroid radiation doses were less than 50 mSv (intervention levels) even in evacuation areas. As for health consequences, no one died and no one suffered from acute effects. The thyroid ultrasound examination is in progress and following examination of almost 40,000 children, 35% of them have nodules and/or cysts but no cancers.


Countermeasures against radiation must consider current individual measured values, although every effort must be taken to reconstruct radiation doses as precisely as possible. At present, the difference of thyroid radiation dose between Chernobyl and Fukushima appears to be due to the strict control of milk started within a week after the accident in Fukushima. Since the iodine-131 plume moved around in wide areas and for a long time, the method of thyroid protection must be reconsidered.