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Lifelong health checks planned for 20,000 workers at Fukushima plant – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

A worker from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is checked for radiation exposure on March 12, 2011. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
The government will look for increased rates of leukemia and other cancers linked to radiation exposure as part of a lifelong study of 20,000 workers mobilized in the recovery effort after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare study is projected to be still continuing 60 years from now because many of the workers are in their early 20s. The triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was triggered by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The individuals taking part in the study worked at the plant between March 14 and Dec. 16 of that year.

A panel of experts on May 16 approved the ministry’s plan, including the methodology of the study, the subjects to be covered and conditions to be checked.

Under the plan, blood and liver function tests will be conducted once a year during routine health checks. Every three to five years, doctors will check for signs of kidney failure.

The ministry plans to start the study on a trial basis during the current fiscal year, which will then be expanded on a full-scale basis in fiscal 2015.

The ministry will decide at a later date which entity it will contract to carry out the study.

During the nine-month period in question, the government raised the safety limit for radiation exposure in cases of emergency from 100 millisieverts to 250 millisieverts.

Of the 20,000 workers, 174 were exposed to radiation doses that exceeded the safety limit of 100 millisieverts over five years for those working under normal conditions.




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