Evidence of disease and birth defects in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other territories affected by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986
100 studies summarised

Since this page was posted (2004) the European Committee on Radiation Risk has published a very important book on the effects of Chernobyl. See this link and it's republished (2009). See also a 2010 publication from the New York Academy of Sciences

New finding (Nov. 2004)
See also this summary.

At the International Workshop of CERRIE which took place over three days in July 2003 in Oxford, Professors Yablokov and Burlakova said that there were many thousands of papers in Russian which were relevant to the work of the committee and that it would be useful and advisable for at least the abstracts to be translated into English. The committee has taken little notice of this advice. We have cited some Russian work, but at the time of writing (September 2004) it is not certain that these references will be included in the main report. We have some abstracts, mainly from the 2nd and 3rd International Conferences of the Association of Physicians of Chernobyl, which are in English, although the translations frequently make the sense unclear. With Professors Yablokov and Burlakova, we consider it a high priority to make this material accessible to a non-Russian speaking audience. Here we present some summaries. Although our resources are severely limited we will continue to work on this project and will publish the results at least on this web site.

Predictably most of the papers concern the effects of the Chernobyl accident. Many of them address health problems of liquidators or their children. We have not summarised all of these. Our primary interest is in internal radiation at doses which would be considered extremely low even in the context of the Chernobyl accident whereas the liquidators' studies are mainly concerned with high doses and generally do not differentiate between dose categories (it seems, in any case, that dose data largely does not exist or are unreliable). Nor do they differentiate between internal and external irradiation. Moreover, from the epidemiological point of view it is not possible to tell from these abstracts to what extent the study subjects were self selecting. It would appear that many are based on hospitals and research institutes so that the studies would exclude healthy liquidators. We would be interested to know of any studies which overcame these problems. Some trends may be observed, the most obvious being that a wide range of diseases appeared far more abundantly and far earlier than would be predicted by the ICRP on the basis of the radiation doses involved; this applies even to cancer of the thyroid. Arising from this is an evolution of assumptions which M. I. Rudnev, of the Ukrainian Academy of Medical Sciences, has described:

For the 14 years after the catastrophe at Chernobyl radiobiology passed through traditional approaches periods [sic] in assessment of low level (below 1 Gray) radiation effects upon organism, starting from "it could not be" to "there is something in it" and finally "it has been known for a long time".
The existence of the CERRIE minority report shows that we are in Rudnev's middle stage.

A less obvious trend is that some diseases increase monotonically with increasing dose (e.g. thyroid) while others, notably child and infant leukaemia, do not. Some authors do not offer any interpretation. Others infer that the non-linear relationship stands as part of the challenge to the conventional view of radiation risk - the book edited by Professor Burlakova is the most outstanding example. Others conclude that the disease is caused not by radiation at all but by "radiophobia", stress, deprivation, dislocation, alcohol and any number of other social factors. There is an obvious need for studies comparing Chernobyl with the spectrum of diseases following wars. We are not aware of any, and warn that the wars to be studied should not involve the use of depleted Uranium weaponry.


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