[Source: The New England Journal of Medicine, full text: (LINK), and full PDF document: (LINK). Extract, edited.]

Review Article
Current Concepts
Short-Term and Long-Term Health Risks of Nuclear-Power-Plant Accidents

John P. Christodouleas, M.D., M.P.H., Robert D. Forrest, C.H.P., Christopher G. Ainsley, Ph.D., Zelig Tochner, M.D., Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., and Eli Glatstein, M.D.
N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2334-2341June 16, 2011
<DL><DD>On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of Japan. The total number of people who died in the earthquake and the tsunami that it generated is still being assessed, but the official estimation already exceeds 14,000.1 The natural disaster also caused substantial damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the consequences of which are still unclear. The purpose of this review is to put the emergency at the Japanese power plant, even as it is evolving, into the context of the extensive literature on nuclear-reactor accidents by analyzing the mechanisms and major short-term and long-term health risks of radiation exposure. In addition, we briefly discuss the accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 and at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986 because they illustrate the broad range of potential outcomes.

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