Evidence Report: Risk of Acute and Late Central Nervous System Effects from Radiation ExposurePossible acute and late risks to the central nervous system (CNS) from galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and solar particle events (SPE) are concerns for human exploration of space. Acute CNS risks may include: altered cognitive function, reduced motor function, and behavioral changes, all of which may affect performance and human health. Late CNS risks may include neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), dementia and premature aging. Although detrimental CNS changes are observed in humans treated with high-dose radiation (e.g., gamma rays and 9 protons) for cancer and are supported by experimental evidence showing neurocognitive and behavioral effects in animal models, the significance of these results on the morbidity to astronauts has not been elucidated. There is a lack of human epidemiology data on which to base CNS risk estimates; therefore, risk projection based on scaling to human data, as done for cancer risk, is not possible for CNS risks. Research specific to the spaceflight environment using animal and cell models must be compiled to quantify the magnitude of CNS changes in order to estimate this risk and to establish validity of the current permissible exposure limits (PELs). In addition, the impact of radiation exposure in combination with individual sensitivity or other space flight factors, as well as assessment of the need for biological/pharmaceutical countermeasures, will be considered after further definition of CNS risk occurs.
Nelson, Gregory A. (Loma Linda Univ. CA, United States)
Simonsen, Lisa (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Huff, Janice L. (Universities Space Research Association Houston, TX, United States)