Characteristics of the Cohort of Workers at the Mayak Nuclear Complex

Branch No. 1 of the State Research Center "Biophysics Institute", Ozyorsk, Chelyabinsk region, Russia.
Radiation Research (Impact Factor: 2.91). 11/1999; 152(4):352-63. DOI: 10.2307/3580220
Source: PubMed


At Branch No. 1 of the Russian State Research Center "Biophysics Institute", a registry has been created of workers at the "Mayak" Production Association, the first nuclear complex in Russia. This registry includes 18,830 persons hired at Mayak's nuclear reactors and radiochemical and plutonium production plant between 1948 and 1972. Twenty-five percent of these workers are women. As of December 31, 1994, the vital status is known for approximately 90% of the cohort members. A total of 5,118 persons have died. The cause for 97% of total deaths has been ascertained. The cohort members were exposed to both external gamma radiation and internal radiation from incorporated plutonium. The plutonium body burden has been measured in 30% of the cohort members with potential for plutonium exposure. External gamma-ray doses were in the range from tenths of milligrays to about 10 Gy, and plutonium body burdens were up to about 260 kBq. In view of the nature of the Mayak worker cohort, it has the potential to provide reasonably precise, quantitative estimates of the long-term health effects associated with chronic low-dose-rate exposure to external gamma radiation as well as internal radiation from plutonium. However, a number of issues must be addressed before credible risk estimates can be obtained from this cohort. These issues include the development of an appropriate internal comparison group and/or external rates and separating of the effects of internal and external exposures on risk estimates.

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    • "The first Soviet production facility of nuclear weapons, Mayak Production Association (Mayak PA) started operation in the Southern Urals in 1948[1,2]the purpose of housing current and former Mayak employees and their families; in 2013, the still closed city had about 81 000 inhabitants. This city was formerly secret , and population movements in and out of town were recorded and restricted. "
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    ABSTRACT: The city of Ozyorsk (Southern Urals) was created as a secret city in 1945 and is a closed city until today. It housed workers of the earliest and one of the country’s largest nuclear facilities. Workers of the nuclear reactors, radiochemical or reprocessing plants were exposed to high levels of ionising radiation in the early years of operation and possibly further exposed from inhalation of plutonium aerosols. The cause-of-death registry of Ozyorsk received paper copies of original death certificates of all deaths of residents of the city. Data were analysed for recent mortality rates (1998–2010) and time trends in age-standardised mortality rates between 1953 and 2010 of main groups of causes of deaths, in particular cancer. Comparing workers of the three main plant types with the remainder of the Ozyorsk residents, and with national figures, all-cause mortality rates were lowest among workers, with ratios compared to national figures of 0.65 (men) and 0.56 (women), and compared to the other residents of 0.77 (men) and of 0.74 (women). For cancer overall, the differences were smaller in men (ratio between workers and national figures of 0.86) and there were no differences in women (ratio of 1.00), but ratios differed by cancer type. Most cancer deaths were however least common in the workers, including leukaemia. Over the last 60 years, all-cause mortality has gradually increased among men in all three groups but was stable among women, whereas cancer death rates have slightly declined in both sexes. Healthy worker effect, relatively better living conditions in Ozyorsk and healthier lifestyles may explain the lower mortality rates in Ozyorsk. Overall mortality time trends in Ozyorsk were similar to the entire country. No apparent radiation-related effects were seen in this population-level analysis, but the radiation-related risks can be better addressed in individual-level studies.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Environmental Health
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    • "The cohort design, data collection and methods used to determine the vital status have been described in detail previously (Koshurnikova et al, 1999; Labutina et al, 2013). We summarise here some of the main aspects. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Cancer incidence in the Mayak Production Association (PA) cohort was analysed to investigate for the first time whether external gamma-ray and internal plutonium exposure are associated with raised incidence of solid cancers other than lung, liver and bone (other solid cancers). Methods: The cohort includes 22 366 workers of both sexes who were first employed between 1948 and 1982. A total of 1447 cases of other solid cancers were registered in the follow-up period until 2004. The Poisson regression was used to estimate the excess relative risk (ERR) per unit of cumulative exposure to plutonium and external gamma-ray. Results: A weak association was found between cumulative exposure to external gamma-ray and the incidence of other solid cancers (ERR/Gy=0.07; 95% confidence intervals (CIs): 0.01–0.15), but this association lost its significance after adjusting for internal plutonium exposure. There was no indication of any association with plutonium exposure for other solid cancers. Among 16 individual cancer sites, there was a statistically significant association with external exposure for lip cancer (ERR/Gy=1.74; 95% CI: 0.37; 6.71) and with plutonium exposure for pancreatic cancer (ERR/Gy=1.58; 95% CI; 0.17; 4.77). Conclusion: This study of Mayak workers does not provide evidence of an increased risk of other solid cancers. The observed increase in the risk of cancer of the lip and pancreas should be treated with caution because of the limited amount of relevant data and because the observations may be simply due to chance.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · British Journal of Cancer
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    • "The information on vital status, date, and cause of death for migrants was provided by the Southern Urals Biophysics Institute (SUBI) Laboratory of Epidemiology from the constantly maintained Medical Dosimetry Registry of Mayak workers. The information retrieval and collection procedures were described elsewhere (Koshurnikova et al. 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Following an earlier study of incidence and mortality of ischemic heart disease (IHD) published in 2010, a second analysis has been conducted based on an extended cohort and five additional years of follow-up. The cohort includes 18,763 workers, of whom 25% were females, first employed at the Mayak PA in 1948-1972 and followed up to the end of 2005. Some of these workers were exposed to external gamma rays only, and others were exposed to a mixture of external gamma-rays and internal alpha-particle radiation. A total of 6,134 cases and 2,629 deaths from IHD were identified in the study cohort. A statistically significant increasing trend was found with total external gamma-ray dose in IHD incidence (ERR/Gy 0.099; 95% CI: 0.045-0.153) after adjusting for non-radiation factors. This value reduced slightly when adjusting for internal liver dose. There was no statistically significant increase trend for internal liver dose in IHD incidence. These findings were consistent with an earlier study. New findings in IHD incidence revealed a statistically significant decrease in IHD incidence among workers exposed to external gamma-rays doses of 0.2-0.5 Gy in relation to the external doses below 0.2 Gy. This decreased risk is heavily influenced by female workers. This finding has never been reported in other studies, and the results should be treated with caution. The findings for IHD mortality are similar to those results in the earlier analysis; there was no statistically significant trend with external gamma-ray dose or for internal liver dose after adjustment for external dose. The risk estimates obtained from these analyses of IHD incidence and mortality in relation to external gamma-rays in the cohort of Mayak workers are generally compatible with those from other large occupational radiation worker studies and the Japanese atomic bomb survivors.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Health physics
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