News
15/6/2017

ISGlobal: Inhalation of alpha particles emitted by uranium and plutonium increases the risk of lung cancer in nuclear workers

ISGlobal: Inhalation of alpha particles emitted by uranium and plutonium increases the risk of lung cancer in nuclear workers


News from ISGlobal


Internal exposure to alpha particles emitted by radionuclides (particularly plutonium and uranium) is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer mortality, according to a study led by ISGlobal. The results, published in Epidemiology, are consistent with estimates of risk from other types of radiation and compatible with current Radiation Protection recommendations.

Knowledge of the long-term health effects of ionizing radiation (i.e. radiation with enough energy to break chemical bonds such as those in DNA molecules) derives mainly from populations exposed to gamma and X-rays, particularly Japanese atomic bomb survivors, and populations receiving external doses due to occupational, medical and environmental exposures. The goal of the study was to estimate the risk of lung cancer in populations exposed to low doses of alpha particles through inhalation. The authors conducted a case-control study of lung cancer mortality among Belgian, French and UK cohorts of uranium and plutonium workers, for which they determined individual lung doses from alpha-emitters.

Most subjects in the study had low doses from uranium and/or plutonium. However, a dose-related increase risk of lung cancer was still observed. “This study is the first in which individual estimates of dose have been reconstructed to estimate the risk of lung cancer mortality among European nuclear workers exposed to these radionuclides” says Elisabeth Cardis, coordinator of the study.

More information:
ISGlobal website

Reference work:
Grellier J, Atkinson W, Bérard P, et al. Risk of lung cancer mortality in nuclear workers from internal exposure to alpha particle-emitting radionuclides. Epidemiology. 2017 May 17.