Evidence of children's vulnerability to radiation in the context of radiological/nuclear events and considerations for emergency response

Abstract of the technical paper to:
Workshop on Children as Vulnerable Populations in Radiological/Nuclear Events (Federal government stakeholders including Health Canada and Centre for Security Science)
Ottawa, Ontario
June 1, 2010

Prepared by:
Rachel Lane, Pascale Reinhardt and Patsy Thompson
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


International organizations, such as International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and World Health Organization, together with committees of experts such as Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation and Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment have assessed the effects of radiation on large exposed populations (Chernobyl accident and Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombings) on nuclear energy workers and people living near nuclear facilities. Childhood and in utero exposure to moderate and high levels of ionizing radiation – such as those experienced during atomic bombings of Japan – or from radiotherapy is an established cause of leukaemia and solid cancer. There is no evidence of increase in solid cancers (excluding thyroid cancers) or leukaemia in the children from Chernobyl, and no evident link between worker's exposure to radiation and leukaemia in their offspring or with the presence of leukaemia clusters around nuclear power plants. It has also not been possible to demonstrate the evidence of radiation hereditary effects in human populations. In accordance with international guidance, the CNSC recommends optimization of protection strategies to reduce doses to children. The development of credible radiological/nuclear event scenarios would assist in identifying probable sources of radioactivity and pathways of exposure for children. Such scenarios should then be used to identify protection strategies appropriate for children.

Read the article published in Radiation Protection Dosimetry (2010) (PDF)