A study released Thursday by a U.S. research team links protracted exposure to low-level radiation to a higher risk of leukemia among workers engaged in the cleanup of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and points to the need to protect those involved in dealing with the Fukushima crisis.
In the U.S. study, scientists did a followup health survey covering 110,645 cleanup workers through 2006 and found 137 developed leukemia.
After excluding genetic and other factors, it estimated that around 16 percent of the leukemia cases confirmed during the 20-year followup period were attributable to radiation exposure from the disaster.
Most of the victims were involved in efforts to contain the Chernobyl disaster until 1990. Their cumulative exposure was less than 200 millisieverts.
According to Tokyo Electric Power Co., around 6,000 workers are currently involved in efforts to decommission the four crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
After the March 2011 meltdowns and hydrogen explosions, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry raised the allowable cumulative radiation exposure threshold to 250 millisieverts for workers so Tepco wouldn’t run out of workers too quickly because of overexposure.
Continue reading at Chernobyl study shows need for caution in Fukushima
◇For more details on the study, see Chernobyl Cleanup Workers Had Significantly Increased Risk of Leukemia