SciCombinator

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Concept: Fukushima Prefecture

249

In Fukushima, Japan, a prolonged refugee situation caused by a major nuclear incident after the earthquake of March 11, 2011 has led to the unintentional abandonment of many pets. We received stray or abandoned dogs from rescue centers in Fukushima Prefecture. During re-socialization training and health care, we accessed the behavioral characteristics and the urine cortisol level of each dog and compared them with those of other abandoned dogs not involved in this earthquake. The dogs from Fukushima showed significantly lower aggression toward unfamiliar people, trainability, and attachment to their caretakers; also, urine cortisol levels in the dogs from Fukushima were 5-10-fold higher than those in abandoned dogs from another area of Japan. These results suggested that the dogs from Fukushima suffered through an extremely stressful crisis.

Concepts: Health care, Japan, Dog, Earthquake, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region, Honshū

205

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

172

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

49

Due to the likelihood of physical and mental health impacts following the unprecedented accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Fukushima prefectural government decided to conduct the Fukushima Health Management Survey to assist in the long-term health management of residents. This included thyroid ultrasound examination for all children in Fukushima. For appropriate evaluation of ultrasound screening of the thyroid, it is important to understand its reference data of thyroid findings in children in general. In order to analyze the frequencies of specific thyroid findings, we conducted ultrasound screening of the thyroid by the same procedures as used in Fukushima in 4,365 children, aged 3 to 18 years, from three Japanese prefectures. Overall, thyroid cysts were identified in 56.88% and thyroid nodules in 1.65% of the participants. Thyroid cysts and nodules with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm were identified in 4.58% and 1.01%, respectively, and age-adjusted prevalences were 3.82% and 0.99%, respectively. Although the prevalence of cysts and nodules varied among the examination areas, no significant differences were observed among the three examination areas in the prevalence of cysts and nodules with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm. Also, the prevalence of thyroid cysts and nodules, especially those with a maximum diameter of more than 5 mm, significantly increased with age, and showed a female predominance. We also identified ectopic thymus (1.95%), diffuse goiter (1.40%), ultimobranchial body (0.73%), lymph node swelling (0.21%) and thyroid agenesis (0.05%). This is the first ultrasound description of the age-adjusted prevalence of thyroid cysts and nodules, or of the prevalence of abnormalities other than cysts and nodules, such as ectopic thymus, in relation to age, in the general Japanese child population. We contend that this can provide relevant information for the Fukushima Health Management Survey and future population studies.

Concepts: Demography, Japan, Nuclear power, Goitre, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Honshū, Parafollicular cell

47

Twelve high schools in Japan (of which six are in Fukushima Prefecture), four in France, eight in Poland and two in Belarus cooperated in the measurement and comparison of individual external doses in 2014. In total 216 high-school students and teachers participated in the study. Each participant wore an electronic personal dosimeter ’D-shuttle' for two weeks, and kept a journal of his/her whereabouts and activities. The distributions of annual external doses estimated for each region overlap with each other, demonstrating that the personal external individual doses in locations where residence is currently allowed in Fukushima Prefecture and in Belarus are well within the range of estimated annual doses due to the terrestrial background radiation level of other regions/countries.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Japan, High school, Background radiation, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region, Honshū

38

Since the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima in March 2011, the Japanese government has conducted screening and removal of contaminated foods from the market that exceed provisional regulation limits for radionuclides. This study aimed to provide an urgent estimate of the dietary exposure of adult residents recruited from three areas in Japan to cesium 134 (134Cs), cesium 137 (137Cs), and, for comparison, natural potassium 40 (40K) on December 4, 2011. Fifty-three sets of 24-hr food-duplicate samples were collected in Fukushima Prefecture and neighboring regions. The 134Cs, 137Cs, and 40K levels in the samples were measured using a germanium detector. Items in the food-duplicate samples were recorded and analyzed for radiocesium intake. Radiocesium was detected in 25 of 26 samples from Fukushima. The median dietary intake of radiocesium was 4.0 Bq/day (range <0.26-17 Bq/day). The estimated annual dose from radiocesium was calculated assuming that the daily intake of radiocesium was constant throughout the year. The median estimated dose level was 23 μSv/year (range <2.6-99 μSv/year). The estimated dose level of radiocesium was significantly higher in Fukushima than in the Kanto region and western Japan. Stepwise multiple linear regression analyses demonstrated that the intake of fruits and mushrooms produced in Fukushima were significant factors for the dietary intake of 137Cs in the 26 participants from Fukushima. The average radioactivity (±SD) of locally produced persimmons and apples (n=16) were 23±28 and 30±35 Bq/kg for 134Cs and 137Cs, respectively. The preliminary estimated dietary dose levels among Fukushima residents were much lower than the maximum permissible dose 1 mSv/year, based on new Japanese standard limits for radiocesium in foods (100 Bq/kg for general foods). In future studies, the exposure estimates should be refined by probability sampling to eliminate biases.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Linear regression, Chernobyl disaster, Japan, Prefectures of Japan, Government of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Honshū

35

The increase in risk for late-onset thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure is a potential health effect after a nuclear power plant accident mainly due to the release of radioiodine in fallout. The risk is particularly elevated in those exposed during infancy and adolescence. To estimate the possibility and extent of thyroid cancer occurrence after exposure, it is of utmost importance to collect and analyze epidemiological information providing the basis for evaluation of radiation risk, and to consider radiobiology and molecular genetics. In this regard, the dose-response of cancer risk, temporal changes in the rates of thyroid cancer, its histopathological types and subtypes, and frequency of underlying genetic abnormalities are important. At present, however, it is difficult or impossible to distinguish radiation-induced thyroid cancer from spontaneous/sporadic thyroid cancer because molecular radiation signatures, biomarkers of radiation exposure or genetic factors specific to radiation-induced cancer are not identified yet. The large-scale ultrasound screening in Fukushima Prefecture of Japan demonstrated high detection rate of thyroid cancer in young individuals revealing 116 and 71 cases in the first and second rounds, respectively, among the same cohort of approximately 300,000 subjects. These findings raise concerns among residents and the public that it might be due to putative exposure to radiation from the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Here we summarize evaluations by the international organizations and review scientific publications by the authors and others on childhood thyroid cancer, especially those relevant to radiation, including basic studies on molecular mechanisms of thyroid carcinogenesis. We also provide clinical details on surgical cases in Fukushima Prefecture and discuss the effect of thyroid ultrasound screening. Correct understanding of “radiation and the thyroid” issues are essential for interpretation of thyroid cancer in Fukushima.

Concepts: Genetics, Cancer, Chernobyl disaster, Coal, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region, Honshū

32

Radionuclide concentrations in environmental samples such as surface soils, plants and water were evaluated by high purity germanium detector measurements. The contribution rate of short half-life radionuclides such as (132)I to the exposure dose to residents was discussed from the measured values. The highest values of the (131)I/(137)Cs activity ratio ranged from 49 to 70 in the environmental samples collected at Iwaki City which is located to the south of the F1-NPS. On the other hand, the (132)I/(131)I activity ratio in the same environmental samples had the lowest values, ranging from 0.01 to 0.02. By assuming that the (132)I/(131)I activity ratio in the atmosphere was equal to the ratio in the environmental samples, the percent contribution to the thyroid equivalent dose by (132)I was estimated to be less than 2%. Moreover, the contribution to the thyroid exposure by (132)I might be negligible if (132)I contamination was restricted to Iwaki City.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Measurement, Radioactive contamination, Radioactivity, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region, Iwaki, Fukushima, Kōriyama, Fukushima

26

Estimation of time changes in radiocaesium in foodstuffs is key to predicting the long term impact of the Fukushima accident on the Japanese diet. We have modelled >4000 measurements, spanning 50 years, of (137)Cs in foodstuffs and whole diet in Japan after nuclear weapons testing (NWT) and the Chernobyl accident. Broadly consistent long term trends in (137)Cs activity concentrations are seen between different agricultural foodstuffs; whole diet follows this general trend with remarkably little variation between averages for different regions of Japan. Model blind tests against post-NWT data for the Fukushima Prefecture showed good predictions for radiocaesium in whole diet, spinach and Japanese radish (for which good long term test data were available). For the post-Fukushima period to 2015, radiocaesium in the average diet followed a declining time trend consistent with that seen after NWT and Chernobyl. Data for different regions post-Fukushima show a high degree of mixing of dietary foodstuffs between regions: significant over-estimates of average dietary (137)Cs were made when it was assumed that only regionally-produced food was consumed. Predictions of mean committed effective internal doses from dietary (137)Cs (2011 to 2061) in non-evacuated parts of the Fukushima Prefecture show that average internal dose is relatively low. This study focused on average regional ingestion dose rates and does not attempt to make site specific predictions. However, temporal trends identified could form a basis for site specific predictions of long term activity concentrations in agricultural products and diet both outside and (to assess potential re-use) inside currently evacuated areas.

Concepts: Time, Japan, Nuclear weapon, Radioactive contamination, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Tōhoku region, Honshū

24

In the first paper of this series, we showed that the ratio c of individual dose to ambient dose did not change with time in Date City, Fukushima Prefecture, after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. The purpose of the present paper, the second in a series, is to estimate the lifetime doses of the Date City residents, based on continuous glass badge monitoring data, extrapolated by means of the ambient-dose-rate reduction function obtained from the airborne monitoring data. As a result, we found that the external exposure contribution to the mean additional lifetime dose of residents living in Date City is not expected to exceed 18 mSv. In addition, effects of decontamination on the reduction of individual doses were not evident. This method of combining individual doses and the ambient doses, as developed in this study, has made it possible to predict with reasonable certainty the lifetime doses of residents who continue to live in this radiologically contaminated area.

Concepts: Effect, Effectiveness, Future, Arithmetic mean, Nuclear power, Prefectures of Japan, Fukushima Prefecture, Date, Fukushima