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You are here:  HOME  >  What's New  >  Chernobyl liquidators' teeth may link radiation dose and disease

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Chernobyl liquidators'
teeth may link radiation
dose and disease

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takes heat in
radiation study

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different path in search
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Chernobyl liquidators' teeth may link radiation dose and disease

Investigators at the Ukraine Scientific Center of Radiation Medicine
Photo from "And the Name of the Star is Chornobyl,"
published by Chornobylinterinform Agency, Chornobyl (used with permission)

Clues to the levels of radiation exposure that cause disease in humans may be found in the teeth of Chernobyl liquidators, the workers who cleaned up after the 1986 explosion at the nuclear power plant in Ukraine. In research funded by the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, investigators at the Ukraine Scientific Center of Radiation Medicine made significant progress toward perfecting a technique by which to reconstruct from tooth enamel the radiation dose received; some 135 liquidators participated in the study.

While liquidators have developed leukemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses, the association between these illnesses and their radiation exposure has not yet been proven.

If further investigations prove that the electron paramagnetic resonanc (EPR) dosimetry technique is valid, it could be used to refine safety standards and to study the effects of long-term exposure to environmental contamination in other parts of the world.

"Although the scope of this study was limited, its results should provide a significant step in improving the utility of EPR in dose reconstruction as well as in getting a clearer picture of the magnitude of the radiation exposure actually received at the world's most tragic reactor acccident," said Dr. Glen I. Reeves, who oversees AFRRI contracts for international collaborations with states of the former Soviet Union.

The findings are reported in the AFRRI publication Retrospective Reconstruction of Radiation Doses of Chernobyl Liquidators by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance. The authors, Vadim V. Chumak, Illia A. Likhtarev, Sergey S. Sholom, Larisa F. Pasalskaya, and Yuri V. Pavlenko wrote, "As a result of this effort, EPR dosimetry with teeth was brought to the level of a semiroutine technique for evaluation of doses received by individuals heavily exposed after the Chernobyl accident." Key factors yet to be examined include the effects of medical x rays and of ultraviolet light. (View abstract.)

A limited number of copies of the report are available directly from AFRRI, 8901 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20889-5603, USA. Telephone 011-301-295-9228.

This and other AFRRI publications are available to qualified users from the Defense Technical Information Center and from university libraries and other libraries associated with the U.S. Government's Depository Library System.