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Although much attention is now being paid to the health risks associated with nuclear disasters, reliable information is lacking. We retrospectively evaluated the health effects of living in highly contaminated radioactive areas in Japan.
The health evaluation was conducted in Tamano district, Fukushima prefecture, in 2011 and 2012. The surface deposition density of cesium in Tamano was 600 to 1000 kBq/m2 shortly after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Clinical parameters included body mass index, blood pressure, and laboratory examinations for blood cell counts, glucose levels, and lipid profiles. A screening program for internal and external exposure was also implemented.
One hundred fifty-five residents participated in the health evaluation. Significant decreases in average body mass index and blood pressure were observed from 2011 to 2012. Annual internal exposure levels did not exceeded 1 mSv in any participants. The levels of external exposure ranged from 1.3 to 4.3 mSv/y measured in the first test period but decreased to 0.8 to 3.6 mSv/y in the second test period.
These findings suggest that inhabiting nuclear contaminated areas is not always associated with short-term health deterioration and that radiation exposure can be controlled within safety limitations. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:34–37)
The 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have had devastating effects on residents near the damaged nuclear power plant, but quantifying its effect on their health has been difficult.
Among the 564 residents of Iitate Village and Soma City who enrolled in this study, we evaluated the changes of clinical parameters in 155 participants who underwent annual health evaluations in the previous year and after the earthquake. Psychological distress was also measured by using patient health questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9).
Participants (median age, 64 years) showed significant post-disaster increases in body weight, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and triglyceride levels. PHQ-9 scores of 10 or greater were found in 12% of the subjects, indicating that a substantial number had major depression.
The findings in this study showed substantial deterioration in clinical parameters related to lifestyle diseases and the presence of general psychological distress among residents living near the damaged nuclear power plant after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. In addition to controlling the levels of radiation exposure, aggressive management of immediate physical and mental health crisis for residents may be necessary in future nuclear accidents. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1–7)
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