Isolation of the effects of alpha-related components from total effects of radium at low doses
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PURPOSE: Radium is the most common source of alpha radiation exposure to humans and non-human species in the environment but the dosimetry is complicated by the decay chain which involves gamma exposure due to radon daughters. This paper seeks to determine the separate contributions of alpha and gamma doses to the total dose and total direct and non-targeted effect in a fish and a human cell line. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study aimed to isolate the effect of alpha particles following exposure to low doses of radium in cells, and their progeny which received no further exposure. This was initially done by comparing the survival values of a human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT) and an embryonic Chinook salmon cell line (CHSE-214) exposed to gamma radiation, from survival of the same cell lines exposed to mixed alpha and gamma radiation through exposure to Ra-226 and its decay products. A Monte Carlo simulation was later performed to determine the contributions of radium decay products including radon daughters. RESULTS: The human cell line showed increased radioresistance when exposed to low doses of alpha particles. In contrast the fish cell line, which demonstrated radioresistance to low dose gamma radiation, showed increased lethality when exposed to low doses of alpha particles. Significant and complex levels of non-targeted effects were induced in progeny of irradiated cells. The simulation showed that gamma and beta decay products did not contribute significant dose and the highest beta dose was below the threshold for inducing non-targeted effects. CONCLUSIONS: The results confirm the need to consider the dose-response relationship when developing radiation weighting factors for low dose exposures, as well as the need to be aware of possible cell line and species differences.
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