Population Monitoring After Radiation Emergencies

What is Population Monitoring?

  • Population monitoring is a process that begins soon after a radiation incident is reported and continues until all potentially affected people have been monitored and evaluated for
    • Needed medical treatment
    • The presence of radioactive contamination on the body or clothing
    • The intake of radioactive materials into the body
    • The removal of external or internal contamination (decontamination)
    • The radiation dose received and the resulting health risk from the exposure
    • Long-term health effects
Adapted from Population Monitoring in Radiation Emergencies: A Guide for State and Local Public Health Planners, Second Edition, April 2014. (PDF - 1.02 MB) (HHS/CDC)

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Summary Information

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Manpower for Population Monitoring

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Estimate of Lifetime Excess Risk of Fatal Cancer Due to Short-term Radiation

Short-terma Whole-body Dose
[rad (Gy)]
Excess Lifetime Risk of Fatal Cancer due to Short-term
Radiation Exposureb (%)
10 (0.1) 0.8
100 (1) 8
200 (2) 16
300 (3) 24c
600 (6) >40c
1,000 (10) >50c
a Short-term refers to the radiation exposure during the initial response to the incident.
b Lifetime risk to fatal cancer without radiation exposure is approximately 24%.
Most cancers are not likely to occur until several decades after exposure; although leukemia has a shorter latency period (>5 y).
c Applies to those individuals that survive the acute radiation syndrome.

Adapted from Key Elements of Preparing Emergency Responders for Nuclear and Radiological Terrorism (NCRP Commentary No. 19), National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, Bethesda, MD, December 2005, page 29. Purchase required.

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BEIR VII: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation

Estimated Risk of Cancer in 100 People from a Single Exposure of 100 mSv of Radiation

Estimated Risk of Cancer from Low Level Exposure of Ionizing Radiation

In a lifetime, approximately 42 (solid circles) of 100 people will be diagnosed with cancer from causes unrelated to radiation. The calculations in this report suggest approximately one cancer (star) in 100 people could result from a single exposure 100 mSv of low linear energy transfer (low-LET) radiation.

Adapted from BEIR VII: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, (The National Academies, 2005, purchase required). See short summary of the report (PDF - 288 KB) (free).

BEIR VII's Best Estimates of the Lifetime Attributable Risk (LAR) of Incidence and Mortality for All Solid Cancer and Leukemia per 100,000 Persons Exposed to 100 mSv

  All solid cancer Leukemia

Excess cases (including non-fatal cases) from exposure to 100 mSv
MalesFemales MalesFemales
Number of cases in the absence of exposure 45,50036,900 830590
Excess deaths from exposure to 100 mSv 410
Number of deaths in the absence of exposure 22,10017,500 710530
  • The Table shows the estimated number of cancer cases and deaths expected to result in 100,000 persons (with an age distribution similar to that of the entire U.S. population) exposed to 100 mSv.
  • The estimates are accompanied by 95% subjective confidence intervals shown in parentheses that reflect the most important uncertainty sources including statistical variation, uncertainty in adjusting risk for exposure at low doses and dose rates, and uncertainty in the method of transporting data from a Japanese to a U.S. population.
  • For comparison, the number of expected cases and deaths in the absence of exposure is listed.

Adapted from BEIR VII: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, (The National Academies, 2005)

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Estimates of Cancer Following Radiation Exposure

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Use of Biodosimetry in Long Term Surveillance Studies After Radiation Exposure

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Mitigation of Delayed Effects of Acute Radiation Exposure

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  1. Moulder JE. Report on an interagency workshop on the radiobiology of nuclear terrorism. Molecular and cellular biology dose (1-10 Sv) radiation and potential mechanisms of radiation protection (Bethesda, Maryland, December 17-18, 2001). Radiat Res. 2002 Jul;158(1):118-24. [PubMed Citation]
  2. Moulder JE. Post-irradiation approaches to treatment of radiation injuries in the context of radiological terrorism and radiation accidents: a review. Int J Radiat Biol. 2004 Jan;80(1):3-10. [PubMed Citation]
  3. Follow-up of delayed health consequences of acute accidental radiation exposure: Lessons to be learned from their medical management (IAEA-TECDOC-1300, Sponsored by IAEA and WHO, July 2002) (PDF - 1.46 MB)