Carcinogenic risk of hot particle exposures

Monty Charles, Andrew Mill, Philip Darley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


It has been suggested that spatially non-uniform radiation exposures, such as those from small radioactive particles ('hot particles'), may be very much more carcinogenic than when the same amount of energy is deposited uniformly throughout a tissue volume. This review provides a brief summary of in vivo and in vitro experimental findings, and human epidemiology data, which can be used to evaluate the veracity of this suggestion. Overall, this supports the contrary view and indicates that average dose, as advocated by the ICRP, is likely to provide a reasonable estimate of carcinogenic risk (within a factor of similar to+/-3). There are few human data with which to address this issue. The limited data on lung cancer mortality following occupational inhalation of plutonium aerosols, and the incidence of liver cancer and leukaemia due to thorotrast administration for clinical diagnosis, do not appear to support a significant enhancement factor. Very few animal studies, including mainly lung and skin exposures, provide any indication of a hot-particle enhancement for carcinogenicity. Some recent in vitro malignant transformation experiments provide evidence for an enhanced cell transformation for hot-particle exposures but, properly interpreted, the effect is modest. Few studies extend below absorbed doses of similar to0.1 Gy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-28
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Radiological Protection
Issue number1
Early online date11 Mar 2003
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2003


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