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on the continuous monitoring of the possible effects of the nuclear power plants in Fukushima damaged by earthquake and tsunami on 11 March, 2011 as well as on some homepages guiding on a few publications of international organizations related to preparations and response to nuclear accidents and radiological emergencies, health effects of exposure to ionizing radiation and medical assistance of radiation emergency patients

The measurements of radioactivity in air are to detect the radioactive contamination originating from the Japanese nuclear power plants (stopped because of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on 11th March, 2011). Radioactive contamination from Japan realistically is not expected in such a quantity that can cause any health consequence in Hungary (and Europe). In normal case during the weekends continuous air sample collection has been practiced for a long time. Daily sampling and measurements have been restarted by the Division of Residential and Environmental Radiohygiene of the Department of Radiohygiene I - Ionizing Radiations (LKSO) of NRIRR since 12 March 2011 (Saturday).

Radioactive iodine isotopes are detectable in the air in Hungary since the end of March. These isotopes are present in such a low concentration that is smaller by many orders of magnitude (millionth times) than it could mean any health risk – due to their very short half life (their very fast decay) and the huge distance from Japan. Thus, the intake of stable iodine pills (that contain thousand times the daily need for iodine) is entirely unjustified and can be even dangerous. Namely, a small fraction of the population is sensitive to iodine and the intake of stable iodine as medicament could sometimes cause serious side effects.

Iodine prophylaxis (i.e. thyroid blocking) was not necessary in Hungary even after the reactor accident in Chernobyl, although the radioactive iodine isotopes were well measurable not only in the air samples taken at the site of NRIRR, but also in the food samples that have been sent from the whole country to the Institute in May of 1986. At that time the concentration of these iodine isotopes had even not reached the level, that we could have proposed the implementation of iodine prophylaxis (or any other personal restrictions) by our health authority. There was no radiation injury due to Chernobyl in our country.

There is an increasing demand for iodine tablets in Hungarian pharmacies, countrywide. There is no medical justification to block the thyroid gland against the miserable intake of radioiodine arriving to Europe and Hungary from Fukushima.To clear the misunderstandings about the interpretation and the function of two main types of iodine prophylaxis, you can find the most important data in the table below highlighted.

Although there is no health risk to the population due to radiation danger - because of the huge distance from the Japanese nuclear power plants -, we have organized the daily measurements also during the weekends to answer satisfactorily the questions and inquiries of the media and the population.

The measured results since 12 March (dose rate, aerosol total beta activity and gamma spectrometry) - not taking into account the appearance of some artificial isotopes in insignificant quantity – are in normal range of the values, that are measured for years (on working days) in NRIRR.(Environmental radiation Situation).

The increase of level of the contamination with radioactive materials in the area of the stopped Japanese power plants is very significant; the workers can only work in rigorous shift (only in limited time and number).

According to official Japanese information up to now one worker received a radiation dose of 180 mSv (at Fukushima-Daiichi), which is lower than the level that can cause any radiation damage. This dose cannot even be detected by the most sensitive cytogenetic biodosimetry method. More information can be found:
Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (OAH) - News
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Earthquake in Japan

Up to now the increase of the extent of the environmental dose rate and radiological contamination outside the 80 km range circle from the Japanese nuclear power plants is negligible. It can not cause any detectable radiation damage or sickness. We personally gave information about these facts to a small group of tourists returned from Tokyo on 16th March 2011 at dawn and came to the institute a couple of hours later. We also informed via phone and email the inquirers that are full of anxiety. Thence we’ve measured the radiation contamination of two dozens of returning tourists at their request – we haven’t found any evincible radiation contamination (on their hair, hands or clothes) or in their body.

To assist your guidance in the subject, please find a list of selected publications of international organizations related to preparations and response to nuclear accidents and radiological emergencies, health effects of exposure to ionizing radiation and medical assistance to radiation accident patients (selection is subjective as it includes the related to the above topics papers prepared with contribution of Dr. I. Turai):

1. International Atomic Energy Agency: Assessment and Treatment of External and Internal Radionuclide Contamination. IAEA-TECDOC-869, Vienna, 62 p. 1996.
2. International Atomic Energy Agency: Methods for estimating the probability of cancer from occupational radiation exposure. IAEA-TECDOC-870, Vienna, 55 p. 1996.
3. World Health Organization: Health consequences of the Chernobyl accident. Scientific Report, IPHECA, WHO/EHG-95.19, Geneva, 520 p. 1996.
4. International Atomic Energy Agency: One decade after Chernobyl: Summing up the consequences of the accident, IAEA-TECDOC-964, IAEA, Vienna, 1997.
5. International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health: Diagnosis and Treatment of Radiation Injuries. Safety Reports Series No. 2, IAEA, Vienna, 49 p. 1998.
6. International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization: Planning the Medical Response to Radiation Accidents. Safety Reports Series No. 4, IAEA, Vienna, 31 p. 1998.
7. International Atomic Energy Agency, International Labour Organization and World Health Organization: Health Surveillance of Persons Occupationally Exposed to Ionizing Radiation. Safety Reports Series No. 5, IAEA, Vienna, 37 p. 1998.
8. International Atomic Energy Agency: The radiological accident in Tammiku. IAEA, Vienna, 59 p. 1998.
9. International Atomic Energy Agency: Dosimetric and medical aspects of the radiological accident in Goiania in 1987. IAEA-TECDOC-1009, Vienna, 94 p. 1998.
10. International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization: The radiological accident in Lilo. IAEA, Vienna, 103 p. 2000.
11. International Atomic Energy Agency: IAEA Emergency Response Network. ERNET. IAEA, Vienna, 66 p. 2000.
12. International Atomic Energy Agency: Indirect methods for assessing intakes of radionuclides causing occupational exposure. Safety Reports Series No. 18, IAEA, Vienna, 100 p. 2000.
13. International Atomic Energy Agency: The radiological accident in Yanango. IAEA, Vienna, 41 p. 2000.
14. International Atomic Energy: The radiological accident in Istanbul. IAEA, Vienna, 7 p. 2000.
15. International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization: How to recognize and initially respond to an accidental radiation injury. Leaflet and poster, published in all UN languages, IAEA, Vienna, 2000.
16. International Atomic Energy Agency: The criticality accident in Sarov. IAEA,Vienna, 46 p. 2001.
17. International Atomic Energy Agency: Present and Future Environmental Impact of the Chernobyl Accident. IAEA-TECDOC-1240, IAEA, Vienna, 128 p. 2001.
18. International Atomic Energy: Cytogenetic analysis for radiation dose assessment. A Manual. IAEA Technical Report Series, No. 405, Vienna, 127 p. 2001.
19. International Atomic Energy Agency: The Radiological accident in Gilan. IAEA, Vienna, 46 p. 2002.
20. International Atomic Energy Agency, Pan-American Health Organization and World Health Organization: Radiological protection for medical exposure to ionizing radiation. IAEA Safety Standard Series, Safety Guide No. RS-G-1.5, IAEA, Vienna, 75 p. 2002.
21. International Atomic Energy Agency: The Radiological accident in Samut Prakarn. IAEA, Vienna, 52 p. 2002.
22. International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization: Follow-up of delayed health consequences of acute accidental radiation exposure. Lessons to be learned from their medical management. IAEA-TECDOC-1300, IAEA, Vienna, 129 p. 2002.
23. World Health Organization – Souchkevitch, G., Turai, I.: Radiation emergency response – Internal Guidance. WHO/SDE/RAD/02.06, World Health Organization, Geneva, 27 p. 2002.
24. World Health Organization – Repacholi, M., Souchkevitch, G., Turai, I. (eds): Proceedings of the 8th Coordination meeting of the Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN) of the WHO, Chilton, UK, 4-7 June 2000. WHO/SDE/RAD/02.08, World Health Organization, Geneva, 148 p. 2002.
25. World Health Organization – Bauquerez, R., Cosivi, O., Gutschmidt, K., Loretti, A., Pluut, E., Turai I.: Biological, chemical and radiological threats. WHO information and documents on CD-ROM, WHO/CDS/CSR/GAR/2002.6, WHO, Geneva 2002.
26. International Atomic Energy Agency, FAO, ILO, OECD/NEA, PAHO, UN/OCHA, WHO: Preparedness and response for a nuclear or radiological emergency. Safety Requirements, GS-R-2 (DS43), IAEA Vienna, 72 p. 2002.
27. International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization: Medical preparedness and response. Training for radiation emergency preparedness and response. Educational material on CD-ROM for 5-day courses, EPR-MEDICAL/T-2002, IAEA, Vienna, 960 p. 2002.
28. International Atomic Energy Agency: Use of electron paramagnetic resonance dosimetry with tooth enamel for retrospective dose assessment. TECDOC-1331, IAEA, Vienna, 57 p. 2002.
29. International Atomic Energy Agency: Method for Developing Arrangements for Response to a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency - updating IAEA-TECDOC-953, EPR-Method, 269, IAEA, Vienna 2003.
30. World Health Organization – Regional Office for the Western Pacific: Emergency response manual. (7.10. Radiation Emergencies, pp. 276-279), WHO-WPRO, Manila, 356 p. 2003.
31. World Health Organization: Health aspects of biological, chemical & radiological threats. E-library. CD-ROM, ISBN-92-4-154602-6, WHO, Geneva 2003.
32. International Atomic Energy: The radiotherapy accident in Bialystok. 103 p. IAEA Vienna, 2004.
33. World Health Organization : WHO Plan for Medical Response to Radiation Emergencies – Operational Guidance for WHO and WHO/REMPAN. WHO/SDE/PHE/RAD/04.01, CD-ROM, WHO, Geneva, 29 p. 2004.
34. World Health Organization – Turai, I., Repacholi, M., (eds.): Proceedings of the 9th Coordination meeting of the Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN) of the WHO, Moscow, Russian Federation 9-11 Dec.2002. WHO/SDE/RAD/04.02, CD-ROM, World Health Organization, Geneva, 200 p. 2004.
35. International Atomic Energy Agency: Health effects and medical surveillance. Practical Radiation Technical Manual, IAEA, Vienna, 62 p. 2004.
36. International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization: Generic procedures for medical response during a nuclear or radiological emergency. EPR-Medical-2005, IAEA, Vienna, 287 p. 2005.
37. International Atomic Energy Agency: IAEA Response and Assistance Network. EPR-RANE T-2010, pp.98, Incident and Emergency Centre, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 2010.
38. IAEA: Criteria for Use in Preparedness and Response for a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency. IAEA Safety Standards, General Safety Guide, No. GSG-2, pp.116, IAEA, Vienna, 2011.

Dr. István Turai sgd.
Acting Director General

Phone: ++36-1-482-2001


Interpretation and function of the two types of iodine prophylaxis

Terminology -
FunctionDaily needed
for iodine
Where to get?
Iodine prophylaxis,
Iodine supplementation,
Goiter prophylaxis
To supplement the inssufficient
daily iodine intake
20-200 µg/day, increasing by the age1 tbl/day for yearsIt can be bought in the
pharmacy or drugstore
Iodine prophylaxis,
Thyroid blocking,
Thyroid iodine blocking
To block the thyroid gland
in the case of risk of radioiodine intake
12,5 mg newborns,
25 mg (half tbl) age of 1 month to 3 year,
50 mg (1 tbl) for 3-12 years,
100 mg (2 tbl) for older than 12 years (also to pregnant)
1/4, 1/2, 1 or 2 tablet once only!
Possibly 2-4 days, when it is recommended by the authorities
(but for newborns only once!)
Following a governmental decision
it is given out for free - the single dose
according to the age has to be taken in ASAP!

Revision: 19-04-2011

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