Workers at Risk for Radiation Exposure

May 30, 2019

Studies have found that workers who are exposed to small doses of ionizing radiation over time are at increased risk of developing, and dying from, cardiovascular diseases. Prolonged exposure to low amounts of radiation has also been linked to genetic birth defects and other health problems affecting the neurological system.

Study Links Low-Dose Radiation to Hypertension

A new study also links low-dose radiation exposure to hypertension; it was the first of its kind to draw such a connection. Researchers evaluated a group of more than 22,000 workers at the Mayak Production Association, the first large-scale nuclear enterprise in Russia. The workers were hired between 1948 and 1982 and most of them worked at the job for more than ten years.

Each of the participants had health screenings at least once a year, as well as a more intensive evaluation every five years. Researchers reviewed the workers’ health records up until 2013 and found that approximately 8,400 workers had developed hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. The study confirms what previous studies had suggested – risk factors for occupational exposures are not lower than those for atomic bomb survivors. According to the study’s authors, the Mayak workers had a higher incidence of hypertension than Japanese survivors of the World War II atomic bomb.

However, researchers also found that the Mayak workers had a lower incidence of hypertension than workers who survived the Chernobyl incident. The study’s authors explain that the Japanese workers were exposed to a single, high dose of ionizing radiation and the Chernobyl workers were exposed to varying degrees of radiation over a short period of time. Whereas, the Mayak workers were exposed to a steady stream of low-dose radiation over a long period of time.

Communicating Risk to the General Public

Researchers point to the study as evidence that radiation exposure is linked to non-cancer health outcomes such as hypertension. The study’s lead author also notes the implications of the study for the general public – namely that prolonged exposure to even small doses of radiation can lead to hypertension, a condition known to cause heart attack and stroke. She explains that the number of people who are exposed to radiation during routine diagnostic procedures has increased. Healthcare workers are encouraged to follow radiological protection procedures and stay within the established dose limits when participating in such tests.

The study’s authors note that while some potentially influential factors were documented such as age, smoking, alcohol consumption, and body mass index, other factors such as nutrition and stress levels were not considered. Researchers are so far unclear as to how ionizing radiation exposure causes hypertension. They intend to examine the mechanisms of hypertension in those who were exposed to radiation in order to gain a better understanding of the causation.

Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Obtain Compensation for Those Suffering Occupational Diseases

If you developed a health condition due to your work environment, contact a Reading workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can help you obtain the maximum compensation available. Complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW to arrange a free consultation.

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