Chromosome aberrations in Japanese fishermen exposed to fallout radiation 420-1200~km distant from the nuclear explosion test site at Bikini Atoll: report 60~years after the incident.
During the period from March to May, 1954, the USA conducted six nuclear weapon tests at the "Bravo" detonation sites at the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls, Marshall Islands. At that time, the crew of tuna fishing boats and cargo ships that were operating approximately 150-1200 km away from the test sites were exposed to radioactive fallout. The crew of the fishing boats and those on cargo ships except the "5th Fukuryu-maru" did not undergo any health examinations at the time of the incident. In the present study, chromosome aberrations in peripheral blood lymphocytes were examined in detail by the G-banding method in 17 crew members from 8 fishing boats and 2 from one cargo ship, 60 years after the tests. None of the subjects examined had suffered from cancer. The percentages of both stable-type aberrations such as translocation, inversion and deletion, and unstable-type aberrations such as dicentric and centric ring in the study group were significantly higher (1.4- and 2.3-fold, respectively) than those in nine age-matched controls. In the exposed and control groups, the percentages of stable-type aberrations were 3.35 \% and 2.45 \%, respectively, and the numbers of dicentric and centric ring chromosomes per 100 cells were 0.35 and 0.15, respectively. Small clones were observed in three members of the exposed group. These results suggest that the crews were exposed to slightly higher levels of fallout than had hitherto been assumed.
Digital object identifier (DOI): 10.1007/s00411-016-0648-3