Quantifying annual internal effective 137Cesium dose utilizing direct body-burden measurement and ecological dose modeling

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The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP) accident represents one of the most significant civilian releases of 137Cesium (137Cs, radiocesium) in human history. In the Chernobyl-affected region, radiocesium is considered to be the greatest on-going environmental hazard to human health by radiobiologists and public health scientists. The goal of this study was to characterize dosimetric patterns and predictive factors for whole-body count (WBC)-derived radiocesium internal dose estimations in a CNPP-affected children's cohort, and cross-validate these estimations with a soil-based ecological dose estimation model. WBC data were used to estimate the internal effective dose using the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) 67 dose conversion coefficient for 137Cs and MONDAL Version 3.01 software. Geometric mean dose estimates from each model were compared utilizing paired t-tests and intra-class correlation coefficients. Additionally, we developed predictive models for WBC-derived dose estimation in order to determine the appropriateness of EMARC to estimate dose for this population. The two WBC-derived dose predictive models identified 137Cs soil concentration (P<0.0001) as the strongest predictor of annual internal effective dose from radiocesium validating the use of the soil-based EMARC model. The geometric mean internal effective dose estimate of the EMARC model (0.183 mSv/y) was the highest followed by the ICRP 67 dose estimates (0.165 mSv/y) and the MONDAL model estimates (0.149 mSv/y). All three models yielded significantly different geometric mean dose (P<0.05) estimates for this cohort when stratified by sex, age at time of exam and season of exam, except for the mean MONDAL and EMARC estimates for 15- and 16-year olds and mean ICRP and MONDAL estimates for children examined in Winter. Further prospective and retrospective radio-epidemiological studies utilizing refined WBC measurements and ecological model dose estimations, in conjunction with findings from animal toxicological studies, should help elucidate possible deterministic radiogenic health effects associated with chronic low-dose internal exposure to 137Cs.

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