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

, according to the study. Workers who were exposed to discrimination or slurs tended to have worse psychological distress.

"The public was horrified that the plant workers could allow the events to go as far as they did," Hanfling said. "This sense of scapegoating or discrimination was a contributing factor to the perception of PTSD."

In a commentary in the same journal, Hanfling wrote that large-scale disasters such as the Japanese tsunami, the Haitian earthquake and Hurricane Katrina offer a stark reminder of how vulnerable the United States and countries around the globe are to catastrophic events.

Large-scale events, whether natural or man-made, can quickly overwhelm emergency response and the health system's ability to handle it, Hanfling said. Far more needs to be done to plan for such events and to coordinate efforts among health care workers' federal, state and local governments; emergency responders and the public.

"Yet, despite the importance of developing well-coordinated plans, few communities have the level of integration necessary to provide oversight and care for an overwhelming number of victims and survivors," he wrote.

More information

The Health Physics Societyhas more on radiation.

SOURCES: Masaharu Tsubokura, M.D., Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo; Dan Hanfling, M.D., clinical professor, department of emergency medicine, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and special advisor, emergency preparedness and response, Inova Health System, Falls Church, Va.; Aug. 15, 2012, Journal of the American Medical Association


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