ANNEX J: EXPOSURES AND EFFECTS OF THE CHERNOBYL ACCIDENT 453
1. The accident of 26 April 1986 at the Chernobylnuclear power plant, locatedin Ukraineabout20 km southof the border with Belarus, was the most severe ever tohave occurred in the nuclear industry. The Committeeconsidered the initial radiological consequences of thataccident in the UNSCEAR 1988 Report [U4]. The short-term effects and treatment of radiation injuries of workersand firefighters who were present at the site at the time of the accident were reviewed in the Appendix to Annex G,“Early effects in man of high doses of radiation”, and theaverageindividualandcollectivedosestothepopulationof the northern hemisphere were evaluated in Annex D,“Exposures from the Chernobyl accident”, of the 1988Report[U4]. TheobjectiveofthisAnnexis (a) toreviewingreater detail the exposures ofthosemost closelyinvolvedin the accident and the residents of the local areas mostaffected bythe residual contamination and (b) to considerthe health consequences that are or could be associatedwith these radiation exposures.2. The impact of the accident on the workers and localresidents has indeed been both serious and enormous. Theaccident caused the deaths within a few days or weeks of 30 power plant employees and firemen (including 28deaths that wereduetoradiation exposure), brought aboutthe evacuation of about 116,000 people from areas sur-rounding thereactor during1986, andtherelocation, after1986, ofabout 220,000 peoplefrom what wereat thattimethreeconstituentrepublicsoftheSovietUnion:Belorussia,the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR)and the Ukraine [K23, R11, V2, V3] (these republics willhereinafter be called by their present-day country names:Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine). Vastterritories ofthosethreerepublics werecontaminated, andtrace deposition of released radionuclides was measurablein all countries of the northern hemisphere. Stratosphericinterhemispheric transfer may also have led to someenvironmental contamination in the southern hemisphere[D11]. In addition, about 240,000 workers (“liquidators”)were called upon in 1986 and 1987 to take part in majormitigation activities at the reactor and within the 30-kmzonesurroundingthereactor;residualmitigationactivitiescontinued until 1990. All together, about 600,000 personsreceived the special status of “liquidator”.3. TheradiationexposuresresultingfromtheChernobylaccident were due initially to
I and short-lived radio-nuclides and subsequently to radiocaesiums (
Cs)fromboth external exposureand theconsumption of foods contaminated with these radionuclides. It wasestimatedintheUNSCEAR1988Report[U4]that,outsidetheregionsofBelarus,theRussianFederationandUkrainethat were most affected by the accident, thyroid dosesaveragedoverlargeportionsofEuropean countrieswereatmost 25 mGy for one-year old infants. It was recognized,however,thatthedosedistributionwasveryheterogeneous,especially in countries close to the reactor site. Forexample, in Poland, although thecountrywidepopulation-weighted average thyroid dose was estimated to beapproximately 8 mGy, the mean thyroid doses for thepopulations of particular districts were in the range from0.2 to 64 mGy, and individual values for about 5% of thechildren were about 200 mGy [K32, K33]. It was alsoestimated in the UNSCEAR 1988 Report [U4] thateffective doses averaged over large portions of Europeancountries were 1 mSv or less in the first year after theaccident and approximatelytwotofivetimes thefirst-yeardose over a lifetime.4. The doses to population groups in Belarus, theRussianFederationandUkrainelivingnearesttheaccidentsiteand totheworkers involved in mitigating the accidentare, however, of particular interest, because these peoplehave had the highest exposures and have been monitoredfor health effects that might be related to the radiationexposures. Research on possible health effects is focussedon, but not limited to, the investigation of leukaemiaamong workers involved in the accident and of thyroidcancer among children. Other health effects that areconsidered are non-cancer somatic disorders (e.g. thyroidabnormalities and immunological effects), reproductiveeffects and psychological effects. Epidemiological studieshave been undertaken among the populations of Belarus,the Russian Federation and Ukraine that were mostaffected bythe accident to investigate whether dose-effectrelationships can be obtained, notably with respect to theinduction of thyroid cancer resulting from internalirradiation by
I and other radioiodinesin youngchildrenandtotheinductionofleukaemiaamongworkersresultingfrom external irradiation at low dose rates. The doseestimates that are currently available are of a preliminarynature and must berefined bymeans of difficult and time-consuming dose reconstruction efforts. The accumulationof health statistics will also require some years of effort.5. Because of the questions that have arisen about thelocal exposures and effects of the Chernobyl accident, theCommittee feels that a reviewof information at this stage,almost15years after theaccident, is warranted. Ofcourse,even longer-term studies will be needed to determine thefull consequences of the accident. It is the intention toevaluate in this Annex the data thus far collected on thelocal doses and effects in relation to and as a contributionto the broader knowledge of radiation effects in humans.Withinthelastfewyears,severalinternationalconferenceswere held to review the aftermath of the accident, andextensive use can be made of the proceedings of theseconferences [E3, I15, T22, W7]; also, use was made of books, e.g. [I5, K19, M14, M15], and of special issues of scientific journals, e.g. [K42], devoted to the Chernobylaccident.