The glycophorin A (GPA) somatic mutation assay was performed to evaluate the magnitude of exposure to ionizing radiation among the human population living in the vicinity of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan. All together, 113 blood samples were analyzed from three generations of people living in villages that were under the trail of the radioactive cloud from the first Soviet surface nuclear test performed in August 1949 and from later tests. The oldest generation (P-0) lived in the area at the time of testing, whereas the younger generations (F-1, F-2) were exposed to smaller doses from the residual fallout and later tests. The GPA assay did not reveal significant differences in the variant cell frequencies for all subjects selected from the Semipalatinsk area compared with 74 matched controls living in a noncontaminated area. However, a significant increase (P < 0.05) in the mean allele-loss ON variant frequency was observed among the exposed P-0 generation (12 x 10(-6)) in comparison to controls (7 x 10(-6)). Considering the sensitivity of the GPA assay, the results suggest that the mean dose to the P-0 generation of the affected villages was relatively low, a finding which is in accordance to the conclusions obtained from other biological assays performed on the same population. (C) 2004 by Radiation Research Society
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