Fukushima Prefecture on July 24 finalized the nation’s largest life-time health study to check for thyroid-gland cancer among 360,000 young people living near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Under the program, residents under 19 as of April 1 will undergo ultrasonic exams from October 2011 to March 2014 to check for symptoms of thyroid-gland cancer.
They will then take the same exam every two years.
For residents over 19, the exams will be performed every five years free of charge.
According to investigations, a large number of children developed thyroid-gland cancer after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, showing that young people are more vulnerable to radiation contamination.
Many of the children developed symptoms four to five years after the accident.
The prefectural government will also issue health check books for all residents to keep records of their estimated radiation exposure levels.
From August through the end of this year, the prefectural government will send health-check questionnaires to all residents to identify their activities following the nuclear accident. This will help the government more accurately estimate the levels of radiation exposure.
Non-Fukushima residents who stayed in the prefecture from March 11 to March 26 will also be eligible for the program.
To help determine the mental effects from the accident and the changed environment, the prefectural government in fiscal 2012 will offer health checks to those aged between 19 to 39 who do not qualify for health exams provided by their employers or local governments.
Residents in evacuation zones and those believed to have been exposed to high levels of radiation will take blood tests and other necessary exams under the program.