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1 February 2007 Cataracts among Chernobyl Clean-up Workers: Implications Regarding Permissible Eye Exposures
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Worgul, B. V., Kundiyev, Y. I., Sergiyenko, N. M., Chumak, V. V., Vitte, P. M., Medvedovsky, C., Bakhanova, E. V., Junk, A. K., Kyrychenko, O. Y., Musijachenko, N. V., Shylo, S. A., Vitte, O. P., Xu, S., Xue, X. and Shore, R. E. Cataracts among Chernobyl Clean-up Workers: Implications Regarding Permissible Eye Exposures. Radiat. Res. 167, 233–243 (2007).

The eyes of a prospective cohort of 8,607 Chernobyl clean-up workers (liquidators) were assessed for cataract at 12 and 14 years after exposure. The prevalence of strictly age-related cataracts was low, as expected (only 3.9% had nuclear cataracts at either examination), since 90% of the cohort was younger than 55 years of age at first examination. However, posterior subcapsular or cortical cataracts characteristic of radiation exposure were present in 25% of the subjects. The data for Stage 1 cataracts, and specifically for posterior subcapsular cataracts, revealed a significant dose response. When various cataract end points were analyzed for dose thresholds, the confidence intervals all excluded values greater than 700 mGy. Linear-quadratic dose–response models yielded mostly linear associations, with weak evidence of upward curvature. The findings do not support the ICRP 60 risk guideline assumption of a 5-Gy threshold for “detectable opacities” from protracted exposures but rather point to a dose–effect threshold of under 1 Gy. Thus, given that cataract is the dose-limiting ocular pathology in current eye risk guidelines, revision of the allowable exposure of the human visual system to ionizing radiation should be considered.

B. V. Worgul, Y. I. Kundiyev, N. M. Sergiyenko, V. V. Chumak, P. M. Vitte, C. Medvedovsky, E. V. Bakhanova, A. K. Junk, O. Y. Kyrychenko, N. V. Musijachenko, S. A. Shylo, O. P. Vitte, S. Xu, X. Xue, and R. E. Shore "Cataracts among Chernobyl Clean-up Workers: Implications Regarding Permissible Eye Exposures," Radiation Research 167(2), 233-243, (1 February 2007).
Received: 1 June 2005; Accepted: 1 September 2006; Published: 1 February 2007

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