Rationale: We previously reported that obstructive and restrictive lung function findings were associated with radioactive Cesium 137 ((137)Cs) soil contamination from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in a pediatric cohort residing in the Narodichesky district of Ukraine from 1993 to 1998.
Objectives: To determine whether these associations persist, we repeated the study and refined the exposure by measuring individual radiation concentration with a whole-body counter.
Methods: Basic and post-bronchodilator spirometry measurements were made for 517 children aged 8 to 17 years born in and living within this differentially contaminated study area during 2008 to 2010.
Measurements and main results: A γ-spectrometer equipped with a collimator was used for the measurement of whole-body radiation and adjusted for weight. General linear and logistic regression models were used to estimate the association between spirometry measures and the weight-adjusted (137)Cs whole-body burden (Bq/kg) while controlling for potential confounders. The geometric median weight-adjusted radiation concentration was 65.96 Bq/kg (95% confidence interval, 14.98-240.9 Bq/kg), equivalent to a geometric mean internal dose estimate of 0.165 mSv/yr (95% confidence interval, 0.037-0.602 mSv/yr). Decrements in percentage predicted FEV1/FVC and an increased odds of bronchodilator responsiveness, restrictive impairment, and FVC less than lower limit of normal were associated with a log increase in weight-adjusted (137)Cs whole-body burden after adjusting for potential confounders.
Conclusions: Our previous study of soil (137)Cs exposure and reduced lung function was corroborated herein with individual (137)Cs whole-body burden, although low, and annual internal dose data. Children in a region just outside of the closed Chernobyl contamination zone continued to have respiratory health deficits associated with (137)Cs whole-body burden as recently as 2010.
Keywords: Cesium 137; Chernobyl; ionizing radiation; lung function.