Long-term effects of ionizing radiation after the Chernobyl accident: Possible contribution of historic dose
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The impact of the Chernobyl NPP accident on the environment is documented to be greater than expected, with higher mutation rates than expected at the current, chronic low dose rate. In this paper we suggest that the historic acute exposure and resulting non-targeted effects (NTE) such as delayed mutations and genomic instability could account at least in part for currently measured mutation rates and provide an initial test of this concept. Data from Møller and Mousseau on the phenotypic mutation rates of Chernobyl birds 9-11 generations post the Chernobyl accident were used and the reconstructed dose response for mutations was compared with delayed reproductive death dose responses (as a measure of genomic instability) in cell cultures exposed to a similar range of doses. The dose to birds present during the Chernobyl NPP accident was reconstructed through the external pathway due to Cs-137 with an estimate of the uncertainty associated with such reconstruction. The percentage of Chernobyl birds several generations after the accident without mutations followed the general shape of the clonogenic survival percentage of the progeny of irradiated cells, and it plateaued at low doses. This is the expected result if NTE of radiation are involved. We suggest therefore, that NTE induced by the historic dose may play a role in generating mutations in progeny many generations following the initial disaster.
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