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Radiation and health effects. A report on the TMI-2 accident and related health studies

Abstract

On March 28, 1979, the Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island (TMI) Nuclear Station was severely damaged by an accident. Radioactivity was discharged to the environment resulting in a small amount of radiation exposure to the public. Continuing concerns by some members of the communities around TMI about the potential radiation-induced health effects prompted GPU Nuclear Corporation to examine the information gathered from the accident investigation in the context of our current knowledge of radiation and its effects on human health. Although this report deals with technical matters, the information is presented in a manner that can be understood by those who do not have scientific backgrounds. This report is divided into three major sections. The first section provides an overview of the past 80 years of relevant research on the subject of radiation and its effects on human health. During that time, scientists and physicians throughout the world have studied hundreds of thousands of individuals exposed to radiation from medical and occupational sources and from nuclear weapons explosions. Epidemiologic studies of humans, such as the Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb, have established that following exposure to large doses of radiation, certain health effects, including cancer, can  More>>
Publication Date:
Aug 01, 1986
Product Type:
Technical Report
Report Number:
INIS-XA-N-086
Resource Relation:
Other Information: 40 refs, 1 fig., 7 tabs; PBD: Aug 1986
Subject:
61 RADIATION PROTECTION AND DOSIMETRY; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; 63 RADIATION, THERMAL, AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANT EFFECTS ON LIVING ORGANISMS AND BIOLOGICAL MATERIALS; BIOLOGICAL RADIATION EFFECTS; DOSE LIMITS; ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURE; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; PUBLIC HEALTH; RADIATION DOSES; RADIATION HAZARDS; RADIATION MONITORING; RADIATION PROTECTION; RADIOACTIVITY; REACTOR ACCIDENTS; THREE MILE ISLAND-2 REACTOR
OSTI ID:
20529426
Research Organizations:
GPU Nuclear Corporation, Middletown, PA (United States)
Country of Origin:
IAEA
Language:
English
Other Identifying Numbers:
TRN: XA04N1183095697
Availability:
Available from INIS in electronic form
Submitting Site:
INIS
Size:
57 pages
Announcement Date:
May 29, 2005

Citation Formats

None. Radiation and health effects. A report on the TMI-2 accident and related health studies. IAEA: N. p., 1986. Web.
None. Radiation and health effects. A report on the TMI-2 accident and related health studies. IAEA.
None. 1986. "Radiation and health effects. A report on the TMI-2 accident and related health studies." IAEA.
@misc{etde_20529426,
title = {Radiation and health effects. A report on the TMI-2 accident and related health studies}
author = {None}
abstractNote = {On March 28, 1979, the Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island (TMI) Nuclear Station was severely damaged by an accident. Radioactivity was discharged to the environment resulting in a small amount of radiation exposure to the public. Continuing concerns by some members of the communities around TMI about the potential radiation-induced health effects prompted GPU Nuclear Corporation to examine the information gathered from the accident investigation in the context of our current knowledge of radiation and its effects on human health. Although this report deals with technical matters, the information is presented in a manner that can be understood by those who do not have scientific backgrounds. This report is divided into three major sections. The first section provides an overview of the past 80 years of relevant research on the subject of radiation and its effects on human health. During that time, scientists and physicians throughout the world have studied hundreds of thousands of individuals exposed to radiation from medical and occupational sources and from nuclear weapons explosions. Epidemiologic studies of humans, such as the Japanese survivors of the atomic bomb, have established that following exposure to large doses of radiation, certain health effects, including cancer, can be observed. Radiation-induced health effects from low doses of radiation, such as those associated with the TMI-2 accident, appear infrequently, if at all, and are identical and, therefore, indistinguishable from similar health effects which occur normally. For example, cancers induced by radiation are indistinguishable from those occurring spontaneously or normally. It is not possible, therefore, for scientists to determine directly whether radiation-induced health effects at low doses occur at all; such observations can only be inferred by statistical methods. The second section of this report provides a brief description of the TMI-2 accident. Most of the radioactivity from the damaged fuel was prevented from escaping from the reactor plant into the environment. Radioactivity which was released into the environment consisted primarily of the noble gases xenon and krypton. Small amounts of radioactive iodine and trace quantities of several other radioactive elements also escaped into the environment. Radiation doses to humans and the environment were measured by radiation detectors and calculated from environmental samples. Nearly 10,000 samples of air, water, milk, fish, fruits, meat, soil and river sediment were analyzed and demonstrated that radioactivity released to the environment was small and will have no detectable impact on human health. The accident was investigated and all available scientific data have been analyzed by a number of independent committees of experts. There was general agreement among all these investigative committees that the radiation doses to the general public were small. Among the important findings, all of which have been published, are: The highest possible whole-body dose to any one individual was less than 100 millirems (0.1 rem); The average whole-body dose to individuals within 10 miles of TMI was less than 8 millirems (0.008 rem); The average whole-bode dose to individuals within 50 miles of TMI was less than 1.5 millirems (0.0015 rem); On the basis of these radiation doses, it can be concluded that the potential health effects, if any, would be so small as to be undetectable. These radiation doses can be viewed in perspective when it is recognized that, in any given year, each person in the United States receives approximately 100 millirems (0.1 rem) of natural background radiation exposure. Medical and dental radiation for the average American contributes approximately an additional 90 millirems (0.09 rem) per year. The one-time radiation doses resulting from the radioactivity released during the TMI-2 accident, therefore, represent only a small fraction of the yearly radiation dose that all of us receive throughout our lives from natural background radiation. The radiation doses to the general public were primarily due to the release of the radioactive but biologically inert noble gases, krypton and xenon. Other radionuclides, such as iodine, were released in barely detectable quantities. Because the radioactive gases readily dispersed into the atmosphere, exposure of people was transient and confined to individuals in the path of the plume. The third section of this report reviews health studies which have been conducted on TMI-area residents between 1979 and 1985. Within months after the accident, the Pennsylvania Department of Health initiated studies which assessed possible radiation health effects among TMI area residents. Several of these studies evaluated potential health effects on pregnant women and their unborn children. [abstract truncated]}
place = {IAEA}
year = {1986}
month = {Aug}
}