FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

259chap.VConveying to PosterityFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Lineworkers, including those dispatched from other prefectures, staff the center and its contact hotline every day. I can only bow my head in gratitude for their struggles.The Fukushima Health Management Survey Review Committee has thus far met six times and is overcoming a myriad of obstacles through the strong leadership of the FMU president.The following are the details of the Fukushima Health Management Survey.Questionnaires are being mailed to all prefecture residents as part of the basic survey. The questionnaires primarily inquire into each person’s habits, conduct, and whereabouts when the airborne radioactivity was at its peak (the four-month period after the earthquake). The aim is to estimate each person’s external radiation dose rate. Through a careful examination of these records and the data for airborne radiation levels, estimates will be made of cumulative radiation (mSv/4 mos.), using software developed by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS).Out of the 2.05 million that were mailed, approximately 430,000 people have responded to the survey (21%) as of January 31, 2012. On February 20, results for 1,468 people were released for prioritized areas (Iitate, the Yamakiya district of Kawamata, and Namie) that were believed to have high radiation dose rates (29,000 responses [52%] were received from these areas). Of the 9,747 people who were not directly working on projects close to or involved with radiation and the nuclear power plants, 99.3% had less than 10 mSv of radiation exposure; the highest exposure was measured at 23.0 mSv. The review committee assessed this data as an indication that “the impacts of radiation on health are minimal.” However, future efforts are required for the health management of these individuals and to reduce their total radiation dose rate.The four detailed surveys being conducted are 1) Thyroid examinations, 2) Health checkups, 3) Mental health and lifestyle surveys, and 4) Survey of expectant and nursing mothers.1. Thyroid ExaminationsAlthough health hazards are highly unlikely under the current circumstances and radiation levels, an increase in pediatric thyroid cancer was seen in Chernobyl from the internal exposure to radioactive iodine. Results from the Japanese government’s pediatric thyroid examinations, conducted from March 26 to 30 on 1,080 children in Fukushima, showed that the most heavily exposed children exhibited 0.1 μSv/h of internal exposure, while 99% of the cases showed 0.04 μSv or lower internal thyroid irradiation. This statistic shows no potential for increases in thyroid cancer cases. As part of the long-term management of pediatric health, approximately 360,000 children aged 18 or younger in Fukushima Prefecture have been given ultrasonic thyroid examinations since October 2011. As of February 2012, approximately 30,000 people in the evacuation zones (80% population in the target areas) have received examinations. Results showed that the majority did not have issues, although some did exhibit slight lumps (nodular lesions) or cysts. Approximately 0.5% of these individuals required detailed follow-up examinations (precision ultrasound, blood tests, urine analysis, and biopsies where appropriate). The follow-up examinations are scheduled to be conducted at FMU.The examinations that will be carried out in the next several years are extremely vital for laying the foundation Basic SurveyTarget subjects: All those living within the prefecture as of March 11, 2011Method: Voluntary response questionnairesContent: Record of activity from March 11–July 11(estimated levels of external radiation dose rate)- To be used for long-term management and treatment of residents’ health- To be used for passing on to future generations the lessons gleaned from health management surveysDetailed Surveys1. Thyroid examinationsTarget subjects: All prefecture residents 18 years or younger at the time of the earthquake (including evacuees now living outside the prefecture)Content: Ultrasonic thyroid examinations*Within three years, assess the condition of all subjects and continue regular examinations thereafter2. Health examinationsTarget subjects: Residents living within the evacuation zone and elsewhereContent: General health tests, etc.3. Survey of mental health and lifestyle (support, consultations, and questionnaires administered to residents within the evacuation zone and elsewhere)4. Surveys of expectant and nursing mothers (questionnaires administered to mothers who received the Maternal and Child Health Handbook in the prefecture between August 1, 2010, and July 31, 2011)Overview of Fukushima Prefecture and the Fukushima Health Management Survey(partially revised with information from the Fukushima Prefecture Homepage)Basic Survey to Estimate Individual Radiation Dose RatesFour Detailed SurveysWorking toward Recovery and Revival