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Fallout 137Cs in Reindeer Herders in Arctic Norway

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journal contribution
posted on 03.03.2015, 00:00 by Lavrans Skuterud, Håvard Thørring
Reindeer herders in the Arctic were among the most heavily exposed populations to the global fallout from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, due to high transfer of radionuclides in the lichens–reindeer–human food chain. Annual studies of 137Cs in reindeer herders in Kautokeino, Norway, were initiated in 1965 to monitor radiation doses and follow environmental 137Cs behavior. The 137Cs concentrations declined from the peak in 1965 with effective half-times of 6–8 years, only interrupted by a temporary doubling in levels from 1986 to 1987 due to the Chernobyl fallout. During the period of 1950–2010 an average herder received an integrated effective dose from incorporated 137Cs of about 18 mSv. This dose represents an insignificant increase in the risk for developing cancer. Health studies even show a significantly lower cancer incidence among Sámis and reindeer herders in northern Norway compared to other populations in the same area.

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