The risk of internal exposure to 137Cs, 134Cs, and 131I is of great public concern after the accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. The relative biological effectiveness (RBE, defined herein as effectiveness of internal exposure relative to the external exposure to γ-rays) is occasionally believed to be much greater than unity due to insufficient discussions on the difference of their microdosimetric profiles. We therefore performed a Monte Carlo particle transport simulation in ideally aligned cell systems to calculate the probability densities of absorbed doses in subcellular and intranuclear scales for internal exposures to electrons emitted from 137Cs, 134Cs, and 131I, as well as the external exposure to 662 keV photons. The RBE due to the inhomogeneous radioactive isotope (RI) distribution in subcellular structures and the high ionization density around the particle trajectories was then derived from the calculated microdosimetric probability density. The RBE for the bystander effect was also estimated from the probability density, considering its non-linear dose response. The RBE due to the high ionization density and that for the bystander effect were very close to 1, because the microdosimetric probability densities were nearly identical between the internal exposures and the external exposure from the 662 keV photons. On the other hand, the RBE due to the RI inhomogeneity largely depended on the intranuclear RI concentration and cell size, but their maximum possible RBE was only 1.04 even under conservative assumptions. Thus, it can be concluded from the microdosimetric viewpoint that the risk from internal exposures to 137Cs, 134Cs, and 131I should be nearly equivalent to that of external exposure to γ-rays at the same absorbed dose level, as suggested in the current recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. © 2014 Sato et al.
Sato, T., Manabe, K., & Hamada, N. (2014). Microdosimetric analysis confirms similar biological effectiveness of external exposure to gamma-rays and internal exposure to137Cs, 134Cs, and131I. PLoS ONE, 9(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099831