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Japan begins thyroid screening for Fukushima children

Japan has launched a long-term project to monitor children near the Fukushima nuclear plant for thyroid problems.

Yesterday health workers tested the first 100 of a planned 360,000 children who were under 18 when the crisis began in March. They will be tested again every two years until they turn 20, then every five years thereafter.

Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to thyroid damage from radioactive iodine – the New York Times reports that at least 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer in children have been linked to the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. Previous screening of children around Fukushima showed minimal doses of radioactive iodine (see ‘Fukushima health risks scrutinized’).

Read all of Nature’s coverage of the Fukushima disaster here. For coverage in Japanese, go here.