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Physical, Mental Toll of Japanese Nuke Plant Meltdown Assessed
Date:8/14/2012

d food, Tsubokura said.

Making sure people are eating a uncontaminated food supply is important in preventing long-term health consequences, he added.

"I don't think that many people will experience long-term health problems related to the nuclear accident, if we can keep providing safe and uncontaminated food to the residents," he said. "In Chernobyl, residents near the nuclear plant were still exposed to radiation even decades after the incident due to the intake of the contaminated food. Food control is the key issue in lowering internal contamination."

Though the radiation levels don't seem alarming, the health of people living near the plant will need to be tracked for years to come, said Dr. Dan Hanfling, special advisor for emergency preparedness and response for Inova Health System, in Falls Church, Va., and a clinical professor in the department of emergency medicine at George Washington University. Radiation exposure can raise the risk of cancer, and to what degree residents face ongoing exposure or long-term health risks is unknown, he said.

In a second study in the same journal, researchers found that many workers at the nuclear plant in Japan suffered psychological distress and post-traumatic stress symptoms several months after the catastrophe.

Researchers asked more than 1,000 workers from the Daiichi plant, which experienced meltdown, and 700 from the Daini plant, which was damaged but didn't have meltdown, about feelings of psychological distress, including feeling nervous, hopeless, restless/fidgety, depressed and worthless.

About 47 percent of Daiichi workers reported psychological distress, compared with 37 percent of Daini plant workers, while 30 percent of Daiichi workers had signs of post-traumatic stress, compared with 19 percent of Daini workers.

After the disaster, the electric company that managed the plants was criticized for its response and the workers have been targets of discrimination
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