Almost 2,000 Fukushima power plant workers, who assisted in containing the nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, are at risk of thyroid cancer according to a health ministry team member. The 1,972 employees will be checked for lumps or be examined to see if they have cancer.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s team of researchers hopes to figure out how radiation exposure as a consequence of the nuclear disaster has messed with the plant workers’ health conditions. The workers were the ones who encountered much greater levels of radiation as the majority of locals were evacuated from the region.
During a global research meeting in Tokyo, Japan on radiation and thyroid cancer Tomotaka Sobue, an Osaka University professor who is part of the ministry team, announced the news about the study. Sobue said the team will check whether 1,972 workers are suffering from cancer or have lumps, according to The Japan Times’ article on the topic.
Fukushima workers’ thyroid glands were exposed to immense amounts of radiation which exceeded 100 millisieverts.
Also under examination will be the close to 2,000 workers of Tokyo Electric Power Co., who were exposed to radiation but at lower doses. After the testing is complete, the scientists will compare the data from high and low risk groups. It is known that radioactive iodine, which leaked out during the nuclear upheaval, usually builds up in thyroid glands, especially in younger individuals.
Already Fukushima Prefecture has confirmed that 33 young people under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer with that number having the chance of rising. However, specialists suggested during the three-day global research meeting that it is not so likely the cancer was a consequence of the radiation from the unfortunate past Fukushima events.
According to The Japan Times, the experts said it is highly likely that some Fukushima residents discovered they had thyroid cancer because sophisticated equipment was used for health checks. Not one of the diagnosed patients was an infant and the finding of thyroid cancer was noted within three years of the 2011 nuclear crisis.
Experts in the field cited the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, stating that a spike in thyroid cancer was found in children after four to five years’ time. Young children as well as infants in the crisis areas had a higher likelihood of developing thyroid cancer.
**This article originally featured on VoiceofRussia.com**