The Chernobyl accident: radiation and people
The Chernobyl accident: radiation and people

From the materials of the Kiev regional newspaper “Tribune of energetic” –– the body of the party committee, the united trade union committee, the Komsomol committee of the Construction Department of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant named after V.I. Lenin.

As the press has already informed, the All-Union Scientific Center for Radiation Medicine of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences has been created in the capital of Ukraine. The Minister of Health of the Ukrainian SSR, the head of this research institution, doctor of medical sciences A. Romanov tells about his tasks and problems.

October 21, 1986. Radiation and people

The events at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant forced scientists of many specialties, primarily doctors, to solve many issues, the main essence of which is human life. With regard to medicine, today the industry is urgently needed specializing centers for research in the field of radiation medicine.

There were several applicants from among the cities where it was supposed to build the corresponding medical centers – Kiev, Gomel, Obninsk. Since a lot of people from the Kiev region suffered as a result of the Chernobyl accident, it was decided to organize such a center in Kiev. The construction of the facility has already begun.

What will the Center be?

Firstly, it will consist of three institutions:

  • Institute of Epidemiology and Radiation Prevention,
  • Institute of Clinical Radiology,
  • Institute of Experimental Radiology.

One of the main tasks of the Center will be to coordinate for scientific purposes the effect of small doses of radiation on the human body, as well as the creation of a “health bank” – a register for many people. Its creation is one of the main tasks of the Institute of Epidemiology. The entire population that has been exposed to even a small degree of radiation exposure is now registered.

All data obtained as a result of their medical examination are stored in the electronic memory of the machine. The creation of an electronic register means that any person who has been examined and whose data are stored in the “health bank”, at any time, can find out about the current state of health, as well as prospects for a year, two, or more. Theoretically, this is not a new business, but in practice, it is used for a huge mass of the population for the first time.

The Institute of Experimental Radiology will study the effect of radiation on living organisms, this is in its very name. Many studies of this nature have been and are being carried out by scientists around the world. However, their reasoning about the same fact is often contradictory. The Institute of Radiology will conduct animal research in order to receive comprehensive questions posed by life.

Today it is often said that residents of the Kiev region, Kiev in particular, receive such a degree of radiation that reduces their life by 10 years. These are conjectures based on unsupported facts. Specialists have already unequivocally determined the dose of radiation that does not affect human health 0.5 bera per year (a biological equivalent of x-ray).

If we assume that the average life expectancy of a person is 70 years, then he will gain about 35 ber in his entire life. Such a dose of radiation does not lead to fatal consequences for human health and does not lead to violations in the offspring of even 3-4 generations.

As for people working with radioactive substances – radiologists, personnel of nuclear power plants – then they have a dose of up to 5 ber a year. They have been working for 30 years. Using simple mathematical calculations, we obtain their dose equal to 150 ber in a lifetime. In some countries, this dose is an order of magnitude higher – about 170 ber per year, and it is considered safe. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that the people of Kiev and the region are not at risk, and the current radiation background of this area does not affect the life expectancy of people.

As for the development of cardiovascular diseases, pneumonia, stomach ulcers in those who received a small dose of radiation, their condition is somewhat different. This especially affects those who were in proximity to the reactor or who worked in an increased radiation zone. There is an individual examination regime with certain standards of health prevention for such people.

On the other hand, doctors have already unequivocally stated that sometimes it is not radiation that acts worse on a person, but a psychological factor, stressful situations, depression and various nervous disorders. We have not studied these possibilities of the human body yet. The task of one of the units of the newly formed Center is to lift the veil over these secrets.

It is known that radiation sickness begins to appear immediately after taking 100-200 x-rays. But it occurs at 100 x-rays in one person, and in another at 200 x-rays. It would seem the same disease, why is there such differences? Here, the protective functions of a particular organism are triggered. The strong fight, the weak surrender. It would be nice if powerful protective functions worked for everyone. But this is not so. Nevertheless, the human body is the most perfect creation of nature.

It laid in him abilities, completely unknown to us, and the possibilities of its reaction to various extreme situations. Radiation exposure is one of them. And even if radioactive substances got into the body, then it itself would do everything in order to remove them. Doctors, so far, only contribute to this. The task of the Institute of Experimental Radiology is to study as much as possible the mechanism of action by which the excretion of radioactive substances from the human body is accelerated, as well as the creation of medications that accelerate this process.

As you know, the children’s body is several times more responsive to radiation, and therefore, many skeptics have already put an end to the physical health of an entire generation of our children. “Western professionals” prophesy to our children and grandchildren a bunch of ailments provoked by a change in the immunological system. It is not ethical and, at least, unprofessional and inhumane.

Those “prophesy” who use the Chernobyl accident for their dirty and mercenary purposes. Scientists have their own, professional opinion about this. Although many doctors from the USA, France, and a number of other countries are misled, regarding the true dose of radiation received by our citizens, they believe that our children would be at risk of physical abnormalities or deformities. This is an outright lie and provocation.

All children from the 30-kilometer zone were thoroughly examined. No changes in their health were found. The Center will continue to conduct a rigorous analysis of the health status of such children, monitor their immune status in order to be able to predict their health status today, tomorrow and in the future. Today, their health status when exposed to small doses of radiation is normal. There is one more feature. The child’s body, of course, reacts more strongly and painfully to radiation, but also removes harmful substances faster.

Take at least radioactive cesium. It can be removed from an adult body for about 60 days, and from a newborn – in just 9. Today, practical medicine has done quite a lot. Thousands of people were surveyed. Blood was examined several times in people evacuated from the danger zone. The presence of radioactive iodine and cesium in the thyroid gland was studied.

Specialists of clinics in Kiev Research Institutes of Oncology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Hematology, carry out a whole range of research works by blood transfusion. The last word, of course, is science. We hope that the progressive studies of our scientists, as well as timely surveys of the population, will give us newer knowledge that will be aimed at protecting the health and radiation safety of our population.