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Concept: Chernobyl disaster


This paper focuses on an overview of radioactive cesium 137 (quasi-Cs137 included Cs134) contamination of freshwater fish in Fukushima and eastern Japan based on the data published by the Fisheries Agency of the Japanese Government in 2011. In the area north and west of the Fukushima Nuclear plant, freshwater fish have been highly contaminated. For example, the mean of active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of Ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis) is 2,657 Bq/kg at Mano River, 20-40 km north-west from the plant. Bioaccumulation is observed in the Agano river basin in Aizu sub-region, 70-150 km west from the plant. The active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of carnivorous Salmondae is around 2 times higher than herbivorous Ayu. The extent of active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of Ayu is observed in the entire eastern Japan. The some level of the contamination is recognized even in Shizuoka prefecture, 400 km south-west from the plant.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Japan, Freshwater fish, Prefectures of Japan, Government of Japan, Honshū, Shizuoka Prefecture, Ayu


The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant caused a massive release of radioactive materials to the environment. A prompt and reliable system for evaluating the biological impacts of this accident on animals has not been available. Here we show that the accident caused physiological and genetic damage to the pale grass blue Zizeeria maha, a common lycaenid butterfly in Japan. We collected the first-voltine adults in the Fukushima area in May 2011, some of which showed relatively mild abnormalities. The F₁ offspring from the first-voltine females showed more severe abnormalities, which were inherited by the F₂ generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011 showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May. Similar abnormalities were experimentally reproduced in individuals from a non-contaminated area by external and internal low-dose exposures. We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species.

Concepts: Biology, Chernobyl disaster, Uranium, Nuclear fission, Radioactive contamination, Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents, Nuclear safety, Lycaenidae


Following the 1986 Chernobyl accident, 116,000 people were permanently evacuated from the 4,200 km(2) Chernobyl exclusion zone [1]. There is continuing scientific and public debate surrounding the fate of wildlife that remained in the abandoned area. Several previous studies of the Chernobyl exclusion zone (e.g. [2,3]) indicated major radiation effects and pronounced reductions in wildlife populations at dose rates well below those thought [4,5] to cause significant impacts. In contrast, our long-term empirical data showed no evidence of a negative influence of radiation on mammal abundance. Relative abundances of elk, roe deer, red deer and wild boar within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are similar to those in four (uncontaminated) nature reserves in the region and wolf abundance is more than 7 times higher. Additionally, our earlier helicopter survey data show rising trends in elk, roe deer and wild boar abundances from one to ten years post-accident. These results demonstrate for the first time that, regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Deer, Zone of alienation, Abundance, Abundance of the chemical elements, Wildlife, Megafauna of Eurasia, Venison


After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, radioactive elements were released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Based on prior knowledge, concern emerged about whether an increased incidence of thyroid cancer among exposed residents would occur as a result.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Uranium, Nuclear fission, Japan, Nuclear power, Nuclear safety, Electricity generation, Sellafield


A thyroid ultrasound examination programme has been conducted in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, after the nuclear disaster in 2011. Although remarkably high prevalence of thyroid cancer was observed, no relevant quantitative evaluation was conducted. We calculated the observed/expected (O/E) ratio of thyroid cancer prevalence for the residents aged ≤20 years. Observed prevalence was the number of thyroid cancer cases detected by the programme through the end of April 2015. Expected prevalence was calculated as cumulative incidence by a life-table method using the national estimates of thyroid cancer incidence rate in 2001-10 (prior to the disaster) and the population of Fukushima Prefecture. The underlying assumption was that there was neither nuclear accident nor screening intervention. The observed and estimated prevalence of thyroid cancer among residents aged ≤20 years was 160.1 and 5.2, respectively, giving an O/E ratio of 30.8 [95% confidence interval (CI): 26.2, 35.9]. When the recent increasing trend in thyroid cancer was considered, the overall O/E ratio was 22.2 (95% CI: 18.9, 25.9). The cumulative number of thyroid cancer deaths in Fukushima Prefecture, estimated with the same method (annual average in 2009-13), was 0.6 under age 40. Combined with the existing knowledge about radiation effect on thyroid cancer, our descriptive analysis suggests the possibility of overdiagnosis. Evaluation including individual-level analysis is required to further clarify the contribution of underlying factors.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Medical statistics, Chernobyl disaster, Incidence, Prevalence, Denominator data, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region


The ratio of male to female offspring at birth may be a simple and non-invasive way to monitor the reproductive health of a population. Except in societies where selective abortion skews the sex ratio, approximately 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. Generally, the human sex ratio at birth is remarkably constant in large populations. After the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in April 1986, a long lasting significant elevation in the sex ratio has been found in Russia, i.e. more boys or fewer girls compared to expectation were born. Recently, also for Cuba an escalated sex ratio from 1987 onward has been documented and discussed in the scientific literature.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Female, Demography, Population, Chernobyl disaster, Gender, Sex ratio


Safety of evacuation is of paramount importance in disaster planning for elderly people; however, little effort has been made to investigate evacuation-related mortality risks. After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant accident we conducted a retrospective cohort survival survey of elderly evacuees.

Concepts: Cohort study, Chernobyl disaster, Actuarial science, Nuclear fission, Geriatrics, Hazard, Emergency evacuation, Three Mile Island accident


To evaluate the environmental contamination and radiation exposure dose rates due to artificial radionuclides in Kawauchi Village, Fukushima Prefecture, the restricted area within a 30-km radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP), the concentrations of artificial radionuclides in soil samples, tree needles, and mushrooms were analyzed by gamma spectrometry. Nine months have passed since samples were collected on December 19 and 20, 2011, 9 months after the FNPP accident, and the prevalent dose-forming artificial radionuclides from all samples were (134)Cs and (137)Cs. The estimated external effective doses from soil samples were 0.42-7.2 µSv/h (3.7-63.0 mSv/y) within the 20-km radius from FNPP and 0.0011-0.38 µSv/h (0.010-3.3 mSv/y) within the 20-30 km radius from FNPP. The present study revealed that current levels are sufficiently decreasing in Kawauchi Village, especially in areas within the 20- to 30-km radius from FNPP. Thus, residents may return their homes with long-term follow-up of the environmental monitoring and countermeasures such as decontamination and restrictions of the intake of foods for reducing unnecessary exposure. The case of Kawauchi Village will be the first model for the return to residents' homes after the FNPP accident.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Nuclear physics, Chernobyl disaster, Radioactive decay, Nuclear power, Radioactive contamination, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture


This study is dedicated to the environmental monitoring of radionuclides released in the course of the Fukushima nuclear accident. The activity concentrations of β(-) -emitting (90)Sr and β(-)/γ-emitting (134)Cs and (137)Cs from several hot spots in Japan were determined in soil and vegetation samples. The (90)Sr contamination levels of the samples were relatively low and did not exceed the Bq⋅g(-1) range. They were up four orders of magnitude lower than the respective (137)Cs levels. This study, therefore, experimentally confirms previous predictions indicating a low release of (90)Sr from the Fukushima reactors, due to its low volatility. The radiocesium contamination could be clearly attributed to the Fukushima nuclear accident via its activity ratio fingerprint ((134)Cs/(137)Cs). Although the correlation between (90)Sr and (137)Cs is relatively weak, the data set suggests an intrinsic coexistence of both radionuclides in the contaminations caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident. This observation is of great importance not only for remediation campaigns but also for the current food monitoring campaigns, which currently rely on the assumption that the activity concentrations of β(-)-emitting (90)Sr (which is relatively laborious to determine) is not higher than 10% of the level of γ-emitting (137)Cs (which can be measured quickly). This assumption could be confirmed for the samples investigated herein.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear medicine, Concentration, Chemical equilibrium, HotSpot, Radioactive contamination, Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents, Assumption of Mary


A primary health concern among residents and evacuees in affected areas immediately after a nuclear accident is the internal exposure of the thyroid to radioiodine, particularly I-131, and subsequent thyroid cancer risk. In Japan, the natural disasters of the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 destroyed an important function of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (F1-NPP) and a large amount of radioactive material was released to the environment. Here we report for the first time extensive measurements of the exposure to I-131 revealing I-131 activity in the thyroid of 46 out of the 62 residents and evacuees measured. The median thyroid equivalent dose was estimated to be 4.2 mSv and 3.5 mSv for children and adults, respectively, much smaller than the mean thyroid dose in the Chernobyl accident (490 mSv in evacuees). Maximum thyroid doses for children and adults were 23 mSv and 33 mSv, respectively.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Nuclear medicine, Nuclear power, Radioactive contamination, Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents, Nuclear safety, Three Mile Island accident, Hanford Site