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Experiences of Population Monitoring Using Whole-Body Counters in Response to the Fukushima Nuclear Accident

Kurihara, Osamu1; Li, Chunsheng2; Lopez, Maria Antonia3; Kim, Eunjoo1; Tani, Kotaro1; Nakano, Takashi1; Takada, Chie4; Momose, Takumaro4; Akashi, Makoto1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000862

Whole-body counter measurements of residents of Fukushima Prefecture have been extensively performed after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011. These measurements have demonstrated that the levels of internal contamination with radioactive cesium (134Cs and 137Cs) in the residents are very low. This article provides an overview of and lessons learned from these whole-body counter measurements with emphasis on the technical problems encountered, and it discusses the effective use of whole-body counters for assessing the internal thyroid doses of individuals when direct measurements of 131I in the thyroid are difficult or impossible to implement for the total affected population in a short time after a nuclear reactor accident. The application of this dose reconstruction method requires determining the intake ratio of 131I to cesium isotopes at appropriate times and considers the short biological half-lives of cesium isotopes, in particular for children.

1National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Sciences and Technology, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4‐9‐1 Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba, Japan;

2Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, 775 Brookfield Rd., Ottawa, Canada;

3Centro de Investigaciones Emergéticas, Medioambientales y Technológicas, Avda. Complutense 40, 28040 Madrid, Spain;

4Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Development Laboratories, 4‐33 Muramatsu, Tokai-mura, Ibaraki, Japan.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: Eunjoo Kim, National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4‐9‐1 Anagawa, Inage-ku, Chiba, Japan, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 25 January 2018)

© 2018 by the Health Physics Society