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Quantitation of Japanese Cedar Pollen and Radiocesium Adhered to Nonwoven Fabric Masks Worn by the General Population

Higaki, Shogo*; Shirai, Hideharu; Hirota, Masahiro; Takeda, Eisuke§; Yano, Yukiko*; Shibata, Akira§; Mishima, Yoshitaka§; Yamamoto, Hiromi§; Miyazawa, Kiyoshi§

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000078

Abstract: In the spring of 2012, a year after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, radiocesium-contaminated Japanese cedar pollen may have caused internal exposure to the general population by inhalation. To determine if pollen had been contaminated through uptake of radiocesium by Japanese cedars and was therefore contributing to inhalation doses, the authors measured radiocesium and Japanese cedar pollen adhered to masks worn by 68 human subjects residing in eastern Japan, including Fukushima prefecture, for 8 wk in the spring of 2012. The maximum cumulative 137Cs and 134Cs radioactivities on masks worn by an individual were 21 ± 0.36 Bq and 15 ± 0.22 Bq, respectively, and the estimated effective dose during the 8 wk was 0.494 μSv. The average estimated effective dose during the 8 wk was 0.149 μSv in Fukushima prefecture and 0.015 μSv in other prefectures, including Tokyo metropolitan. The correlation between radiocesium activity and the Japanese cedar pollen count was moderate. However, imaging-plate and light microscopy observations showed that the main source of radiocesium adhered to masks was fugitive dust.

*Radioisotope Center, The University of Tokyo, 2‐11‐16 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113‐0032, Japan; †Institute of Tokyo Environmental Allergy, 3‐1‐4 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113‐0034, Japan; ‡Research Center for Human and Environmental Sciences, Shinshu University, 3‐1‐1 Asahi, Matsumoto-City, Nagano 390‐8621, Japan; §Unicharm Corporation, 3‐5‐27 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108‐8575, Japan.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: Shogo Higaki, Radioisotope Center, The University of Tokyo, 2‐11‐16 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113‐0032, Japan, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 26 November 2013)

© 2014 by the Health Physics Society