The epidemiological study EPICE provides well-documented answers regarding non-cancerous radiation-induced effects. This study does not observe an association between cardiac arrhythmia and caesium-137 deposition levels on children living in the Bryansk region exposed to Chenobyl fallout.
The scientific evidence currently available about the possible health consequences of accidental exposure to ionizing radiation is mainly based on
lessons learned from the follow-up of A-bomb survivors (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) in Japan,
as well as populations exposed to fallout from the Chernobyl accident in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
The observed effects vary according to the type of radiation exposure, dose rate and study population.
In the long term (a few years to decades), an increase in the risk of leukemia and cancers has been observed among the Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, as well as an increase of thyroid cancer in children exposed to fallout from the Chernobyl accident in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
With respect to non-cancerous effects, a relationship between the risk of cardiovascular disease and exposure to ionizing radiation was observed in the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and in Chernobyl liquidators; a similar observation was made for lens opacities (early stage of cataract) and exposure. However major uncertainties remain over the existence of such low-dose associations.
To address this issue, IRSN set up in 2005 the EPICE program (Evaluation of Pathologies potentially Induced by chronic CEsium contamination) in order to gather scientific information on non-cancerous effects resulting from chronic low-dose ionizing exposures and to answer a societal question relating to the health consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in a sensitive population (children).
Territories and population included in the EPICE study
The region of Bryansk, in Russia, is located to the north-east of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Part of the region was affected by the Chernobyl fallout. The EPICE study focused on systematic screening for cardiac arrhytmias in nearly 18,000 children aged 2 to 18 living in the contaminated (137Cs deposit > 37 kBq/m²) and uncontaminated territories of the Oblast.
© UNSCEAR - caesium-137 soil deposition