News & AnalysisDevastation in Japan

Radiation Risks Outlined by Bombs, Weapons Work, and Accidents

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Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1504
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6024.1504

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Summary

The ongoing leaks from Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have raised concern that some workers and even the public could be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. So far, officials have said that levels outside the plant are low. But how do they know how much radiation is harmful? Risk calculations are based heavily on a 63-year study of 94,000 people who survived the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in August 1945. It is one of the largest, longest population studies ever done; for radiation safety, it is the gold standard.