FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

258is dependent on the amount of radiation exposure (100–4000 mSv).Individual genetic and cellular level damage does not immediately lead to carcinogenic risk. An individual’s bodily response (immune system, endocrine system, nervous system, etc.) to health impacts contributes to the development of cancer. Thus, it is necessary to consider internal factors related to one’s sensitivity to radiation — such as genetic polymorphism and genetic abnormalities in gene clusters related to cellular cycles and repair of genetic damage—over and above various environmental factors.From the above, to establish evidence of a causality relationship between radiation exposure and diseases, reliable epidemiological studies are crucial. There are many factors other than radiation exposure that contribute to the development of carcinogenic risk. Eliminating these factors is clearly desirable for the ultimate reduction and prevention of risks for patients.With respect to the recent nuclear accident, the contrast between the following must be made evident: increased cancer risk from one-time radiation exposure, that is, cancer dependent on external radiation dose rates in a nuclear disaster, and the health impacts of weaker exposure to micro radiation. Understanding and comparing epidemiological studies of other groups such as pilots and those who live in areas with high radiation is helpful.Lack of Information Brought on a Glut of InformationIn terms of basic data on the impacts of radiation on health, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation’s (RERF) long-term survey data on atomic bomb victims is the most precise for its assessment of external radiation exposure and cancer death rates.The painfully tragic atomic bombing contributed to the accumulation of scientific knowledge and the creation of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCREAR); the UNSCREAR sponsored surveys and reviews of the impacts of nuclear radiation. In addition, the atomic bombs formed the bedrock of the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s (ICRP) activities. The ICRP has worked since before the war toward standards and policy proposals for nuclear safety, such as workplace regulations regarding radiation exposure.The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) received policy proposals based on this scientific knowledge and formulated its Basic Safety Standards (BSS). Each country including Japan has, on the basis of these recommendations, devised nuclear safety measures according to their individual circumstances.However, listening to the discussions on radiation exposure risks since the nuclear accident to date, it appears that the international standards, which use the no-threshold, linear cancer risk model, are being ignored. In particular, their meaning and biological indices have been insufficiently understood. Thus, an inadequate understanding of radiation biology has been exposed. Ironically, the lack of information created a glut of information. This resulted in the entire populace losing trust in the experts and a prolonged “radiation phobia.” Radiation Phobia is a Global IssueThe causes of radiation phobia have long been debated at international gatherings. In light of the nuclear conflict presumed by the East–West Cold War era, the confusion brought on by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the recent post-9.11 nuclear terrorism countermeasures, propagation of radiation phobia in times of emergency is a worldwide issue.Fear and anxiety toward radiation and radioactivity can cause a wide range of health issues. For this very reason, the role of health professionals on a disaster site is vital in responding to this trepidation. Thus, proper risk communication at ground zero is an integral part of quality health care.Health Management Survey Commenced from May 2011Fukushima Prefecture’s residents are unavoidably exposed to radiation. Thus, the Fukushima Mimamori Project (Health Management Survey) was initiated in May 2011 for treating and managing residents’ long-term health. This project is being carried out by FMU, as requested by the prefecture, with the support of national funding.Started from scratch, the earnest efforts of those involved were realized by the establishment of the Radiation Medical Science Center for the Fukushima Health Management Survey conducted on campus in September. At present, a basic study and four detailed studies are being conducted. However, operations are managed by a small number of full-time faculty members with limited ability to respond both within and outside the prefecture, and hence there is an inevitable lag in the progress of the project. The busiest periods include daily inquiries exceeding 300 cases, with an onslaught of grievances occurring during the survey’s early days. More than eighty dedicated prefectural and university Fukushima Health Management Survey