FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

1181. 24-hour Monitoring of Radiation in the EnvironmentOn the afternoon of Wednesday, March 16, the Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department faculty members received an order from the University Disaster Response Headquarters to monitor radiation levels 24 hours a day and report the results to the members of the university community. This order was prompted because of the marked rise in radiation levels (as high as 24 µSv/h) all around Fukushima City, including the medical school's campus, on the evening of March 15. The purpose of this order was to enable rapid response capability, should the levels rise further to so-called Code Red levels, in order to keep the university community informed in real time, and dispel unwarranted anxiety among members of the university community. Radiation measurements were conducted by Mr. Oba, the Radiology Department's technician, from 10:00 am March 13 to 5:00 pm March 16. Mr. Oba took the measurements on a voluntary basis while performing his other duties. The faculty of the Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department continued taking the measurements after March 16 as a part of their monitoring activities. Starting at 6:00 pm on March 16, the faculty from each division of the Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department gathered and a 24-hour schedule was decided for assigning the measurement duties. The measurements were first taken with the Radiology Department's ionization chamber dosimeter (see figure at left) in front of the university hospital's guard booth. From March 18 onward, a new system was used once Web-posting functionality was implemented. The measurement results were promptly reported to the Department of Medical Information that posted them through the groupware called Desknet’s and to electronic medical charts. Once the conditions of the nuclear reactor retreated from the critical state, measurements were taken less frequently, with six per day (on the hour) from March 18, three per day from March 22, two per day from April 1, and one per day from May 12. After May 12, the faculty of the Radioisotope Center took measurements on weekdays, while the Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department took on this task on weekends and holidays. And, from June onward, the non-weekday measurements were discontinued and the Radioisotope Center faculty assumed responsibility for all of the data collection. The measurement results have been posted on Desknet’s and are available at the following address. http://cello.cc.fmu.ac.jp/background/background.pdfRecord of Radiation Monitoring Activities by the Faculty of Life Sciences and Social MedicineHiroyuki YaginumaProfessor and Chair, the Department of Neuroanatomy and Embryology, Fukushima Medical UniversityAfter the March 11, 2011 earthquake, all except a very few of the faculty members of the Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department were advised to stay in their homes awaiting further instructions because of ongoing efforts to conserve the limited stores of food and water that was essential to maintain the functioning of the university hospital. With the emission of radiation from the nuclear reactor, the circumstances of the disaster became increasingly severe and the faculty took on the role of monitoring the amount of radiation. The Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department faculty members were responsible for 1. 24-h monitoring of radiation in the environment; 2. Posting real-time radiation monitoring results on the Internet; and 3. Radiation surveillance inside the hospital and contamination surveillance of incoming hospital patients. As the vice dean of the medical school, I attended the meetings for the University Disaster Response Headquarters and other university-wide meetings and was responsible for contacting the patients and delegating matters to the faculty of the Life Sciences and Social Medicine Department. What follows is my record of the events.