Health effects of radiation and other health problems in the aftermath of nuclear accidents, with an emphasis on Fukushima

Lancet. 2015 Aug 1;386(9992):479-88. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)61106-0.


437 nuclear power plants are in operation at present around the world to meet increasing energy demands. Unfortunately, five major nuclear accidents have occurred in the past--ie, at Kyshtym (Russia [then USSR], 1957), Windscale Piles (UK, 1957), Three Mile Island (USA, 1979), Chernobyl (Ukraine [then USSR], 1986), and Fukushima (Japan, 2011). The effects of these accidents on individuals and societies are diverse and enduring. Accumulated evidence about radiation health effects on atomic bomb survivors and other radiation-exposed people has formed the basis for national and international regulations about radiation protection. However, past experiences suggest that common issues were not necessarily physical health problems directly attributable to radiation exposure, but rather psychological and social effects. Additionally, evacuation and long-term displacement created severe health-care problems for the most vulnerable people, such as hospital inpatients and elderly people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Nuclear Power Plants*
  • Public Health*
  • Radiation Injuries / epidemiology
  • Radioactive Hazard Release / psychology
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United States