Kossenko, M. M., Thomas, T. L., Akleyev, A. V., Krestinina, L. Yu., Startsev, N. V., Zhidkova, C. M., Vyushkova, O. V., Hoffman, D. A., Preston, D. L., Davis, F. and Ron, E. The Techa River Cohort: Study Design and Follow-up Methods. Radiat. Res. 164, 591–601 (2005).
Residents living on the banks of the Techa River in the Southern Urals region of Russia were exposed to radioactive contamination from the Mayak plutonium production and separation facility that discharged liquid radioactive waste into this river. This paper describes the methods used to establish and follow the Extended Techa River Cohort (ETRC), which includes almost 30,000 people living along the Techa River who were exposed to a complex mixture of radionuclides, largely 90Sr and 137Cs. The system of regular follow-up allows ascertainment of vital status, cause of death and cancer incidence. With over 50 years of follow-up and over 50% deceased, the ETRC now provides a valuable opportunity to study a wide range of health effects, both early and late, associated with protracted internal and external radiation exposures. The wide range of doses allows analysis of the nature of the dose–response relationship based on internal comparisons. Other features of the cohort are the high proportion (40%) exposed under age 20, and the inclusion of both sexes. The limitations of the study include loss to follow-up due to difficulties in tracing some cohort members and migration and incomplete ascertainment of cause of death.