After Chernobyl: 600 million people affected

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Chernobyl Supergau affects 600 million people in Europe

The Chernobyl catastrophe on April 25 was exactly 25 years ago, but the health consequences of the reactor accident at that time are still having an effect today, warned the IPPNW Germany. Due to the radiation released, "non-cancerous diseases and genetic damage (...) reached terrifying proportions", explained the nuclear-critical medical organization. As part of an updated study, the experts from IPPNW Germany and the Society for Radiation Protection evaluated numerous scientific studies worldwide on the consequences of the nuclear reactor disaster at the time.

Significant long-term consequences of radioactive radiation According to the results of the current study, the long-term consequences of the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago are still serious, said the IPPNW. The updated study showed that a large part of the health consequences of the reactor accident only took years to take effect, often only in the next generations. At low radiation levels, such as those measured after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Europe, the experts at IPPNW often only have a longer latency period until the visible onset of the disease. However, acute radioactive radiation, as experienced by the so-called liquidators (cleaners), shows its health consequences much earlier. According to the results of the current study, of the approximately 830,000 liquidators, over 112,000 have already died to date, and around 90 percent have contracted the effects of radioactive radiation. In addition to the dominant cancers, organic brain damage, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal disorders are a relatively common clinical picture.

240,000 additional cancers caused by Chernobyl? Even at low radiation doses, radioactive substances accumulate in certain organs or cells due to the so-called accumulation effects, which, according to IPPNW, has led to a significant increase in thyroid cancer cases in children, for example, over the past 25 years. According to a forecast by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50,000 children will develop thyroid cancer in the course of their lives in the Gomel region of Belarus. According to the IPPNW, almost 240,000 additional cancer cases as a result of the Chernobyl disaster can be expected across Europe based on the current study results by 2056. The experts assume that over 600 million people across Europe have already been affected by the Chernobyl disaster. However, according to the IPPNW, non-cancerous diseases represent the greatest health risk. For example, the organization UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) comes to the conclusion that between 30,000 and 207,500 children with genetic damage were born worldwide due to the radiation released in Chernobyl.

Stillbirths and malformations due to radioactive radiation According to the IPPNW, the number of stillbirths and malformations has risen significantly after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Scientists have shown that after 1986 around 800,000 fewer children were born in Europe than would normally be expected, the IPPNW said. According to the experts, the gender ratio also changed and significantly fewer girls were born after Chernobyl. Even the “International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA”, which is considered to be rather uncritical, had found that 100,000 to 200,000 abortions were recorded in Western Europe as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. The study by IPPNW Germany and the Society for Radiation Protection also showed that infant mortality in Scandinavia increased by 15.8 percent and that the number of trisomy 21 cases in Germany after the Chernobyl disaster increased significantly. In addition, an accumulation of neuroblastomas, a tumor that is normally very rare in children, was found in southern Germany. Further studies would also have linked the nuclear disaster to the sharp increase in type I diabetes in children and adolescents

Nuclear-critical doctors call for consequences Overall, the current study by IPPNW Germany and the Society for Radiation Protection paints a terrifying picture. The results also lead to the worst fears regarding the current nuclear reactor disasters in Japan. The IPPNW emphasized, however, that the study results should not remain without consequences, because there is still a considerable need for clarification regarding the Chernobyl disaster. Therefore, the IPPNW and the Society for Radiation Protection demand "All information about the Chernobyl nuclear accident and its consequences must be disclosed immediately". Both worldwide and in Germany, a lot of information is still under lock and key. In addition, "the governments - including the federal German - (...) have to finance and ensure independent research", the critical experts emphasized and concluded: "The Federal Government must phase out nuclear power as quickly as possible." (Fp)

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Image: Andreas Kinski /

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