Towards a Long-Term Strategy for Voluntary-Based Internal Radiation Contamination Monitoring: Representativeness of the Monitoring Results in Fukushima, Japan

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Jun 20;14(6):656. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14060656.


Following Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident, voluntary participation, rather than mandatory, was adopted as the default scenario for individual radiation monitoring. We evaluated the representativeness of the internal monitoring results from voluntary participants in Minamisoma City, which is located 10-40 km from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Of approximately 70,000 individuals who were residing in Minamisoma City before the incident, a total of 19,263 residents (aged ≥21 years) participated in the monitoring from 1 October 2011 to 31 March 2015. Based on regression projection techniques with the available data obtained from the voluntary participants, the modeled probabilities of radiocesium (Cs) detection in October 2011 for Cs-137 and Cs-134 were 66.9% and 52.9%, respectively, which declined dramatically within a year following the incident. The rate of decline had stagnated since mid-2012, and the probability was close to zero after mid-2014. Sufficient agreement between the modeled probabilities of Cs detection (for the whole population) versus the measured Cs levels (for voluntary participants) was observed, except for Cs-134 in October 2011, indicating that the voluntary monitoring participant group was a good representative sample. Our findings affirmed the clinical importance of voluntary-based monitoring as a screening and dose-assessment tool in a post-nuclear incident. Our study informs societal decision-making regarding the long-term maintenance of the monitoring program under the current low exposure levels.

Keywords: 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident of Japan; representativeness; voluntary internal radiation monitoring program.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cesium Radioisotopes / analysis*
  • Community Participation*
  • Female
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiation Monitoring / methods*
  • Radioactive Pollutants / analysis*
  • Volunteers*
  • Young Adult


  • Cesium Radioisotopes
  • Radioactive Pollutants