Chromosome Damage Caused by Accidental Chronic Whole-Body Gamma Radiation Exposure in Thailand
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In February 2000, a radiation incident involving a medical (60)Co source occurred in a metal scrapyard in Thailand. Several individuals were suspected to have received chronic or fractionated exposures ranging from a few mGy to a several Gy. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization to paint chromosomes, we determined the frequencies of chromosome aberrations in peripheral blood lymphocytes of 13 people who entered the scrapyard, 3 people who involved in recovering the source, and 9 nearby residents. Aberration frequencies greater than controls were observed in 13 of the donors at 3 months postexposure. The predominant form of aberration observed was simple, complete, symmetrical translocations. An approximate 50% decrease in these aberrations and in total color junctions was observed in 7 donors resampled at 16 months postexposure. Although high, acute exposures are known to have detrimental effects, the biological consequences of chronic, low dose-rate radiation exposures are unclear. Thirteen of the donors had elevated aberration frequencies, and 6 also had symptoms of acute radiation syndrome. If there are any long-term health consequences of this incident, it will most likely occur among this group of individuals. The consequences for the remaining donors, who presumably received lower total doses delivered at lower dose rates, are less clear.
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