The Chernobyl accident – radiation exposure
The Chernobyl accident – radiation exposure

Today it is believed that the main lesson that needs to be learned from the consequences of the Chernobyl accident is the openness of the authorities and all public structures responsible for making certain decisions to civil society.

Any belated decision, or cover-up of important information about the severity of the accident, exacerbates the consequences, accumulating a negative like a snowball. The Chernobyl catastrophe is a vivid example of precisely this effect of understatement, and sometimes outright lies on the minds and consciousness of people. The society has not been tolerant to the mistakes of power precisely since the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Hence, it is vital to rethink the way radiation risk is managed, as it concerns people’s lives and safety. One option is the access to public information, awareness of radiation hazards. As the experience of Chernobyl and focus has shown, one of the reliable ways to secure itself is to analyze the real situation on the basis of its own knowledge, including those related to basic information on nuclear danger.

As is known, over 50% of electricity generation comes from nuclear power plants. Mankind actively uses radioactive materials in the process of life – in medicine, industry, transport, military and other fields. Almost daily, we encounter natural radiation exposure, including from space or land, eating radioactive potassium or inhaling radioactive radon.

In short, radiation exposure has become part of our daily lives, and has quietly infused into its biological rhythm. And the occupation of a person is not so important.  It is not necessary to go to Chernobyl, visit granite deposits, or career of toria sand to get your daily dose of minimal radiation.

On the other hand, the risks from nuclear or radiation accidents were not eliminated. They can cost a person a life, or at least make him disabled. So much is being said about it today. Today it is very important to know the nature of nuclear and radiation hazards, as well as the algorithm of successive actions in case of their occurrence.


Throughout the entire existence of the Earth, all living organisms are constantly exposed to radiation through cosmic radiation, as well as radionuclides, including those contained in the components of both living and non-living environments. This does not prevent a person from adapting to such natural and physical phenomena, feeling completely comfortable in such an environment.

Nevertheless, a high level of radiation exposure is harmful to any species, and its critical maximum leads to radiation exposure, and as a result it causes the death of all living things. In turn, the natural radiation background is a necessary element of development, it is precisely such consequences of natural radiation that contributed to the basic biological processes of evolution.

It is also important to know that human organs respond differently to radiation. The radiosensitivity of the thyroid gland, for example, is as strong as possible; it is the first to react critically to a high radiation background, especially in children.

Sources of natural background exposure

The environment is full of natural background radiation. The power of its influence, that is, the intensity itself — is different, it depends on the facts of the area where a person lives or works. The area rich in granite or toria sand is guaranteed to provide those who live on it with a large dose of natural radiation.

As well as those who live or work at high altitudes, they will receive no less of it due to cosmic radiation. Radon plays a big role of radiation from natural sources. Flying from the surface of the earth, it is in the air we breathe, its concentration in rooms is especially high.

Here, the degree of its intensity depends on the structure of the building – building materials, the presence of ventilation ducts, and so on. The presence of natural background radiation is the norm of today, its average level for most people is about 1.5 – 3.5 mSv / year.

Effects of radiation on health 

It is proved that direct ionizing radiation, when it enters the human body directly through the tissues of the body, can lead to partial or complete damage and cell death. In rare cases, such penetration may not cause a critical impact, giving a person a chance to survive.

At the same time, the cells exposed to radiation most often become abnormal, and subsequently acquire malignant signs. An increased dose of radiation will almost certainly cause extensive cellular pathologies, and as a result lead to death. From a low degree of exposure, a person most often survives, but diseased cells increase the likelihood of cancer by an order of magnitude.

Thus, the severity of the effects of irradiation depends on the amount of energy, the length of stay in the irradiation zone, the power of the dose received, and the identification of organs exposed to radiation. Damage to organ tissue is extremely extensive with strong radiation exposure, and the body simply does not have enough time to recover.

The consequences of tissue damage become apparent by signs of thermal burns, but with a much more severe form of the course of the disease. The critical level of the received dose of radiation exposure, as a rule, leads to death in the time interval from several hours to several days. This fact is affected by the degree of a person’s physical health and medical care provided after exposure.

It is not possible to predict what dose of radiation will become fatal in each particular case due to the fact that irradiation has a different effect on a particular group of people.

Nevertheless, it is widely believed among scientists that the diseases and deaths of irradiated people cannot be explained either by doses or by theoretical calculations. It is time to admit that the reason for this is the lack of a scientific theory of the defeat of the radioactive radiation of the human body.

But only at the time of the Chernobyl tragedy no one thought about this at all. In fact, in any case, in the first days after the Chernobyl accident, the treatment of the disorders that occurred among the liquidators of the consequences of the accident was diagnosed as a regular disease that has no connection with radiation exposure.

This was facilitated by the fact that in the overwhelming majority the determination of doses was not carried out in good faith, and in some cases it was extremely unprofessional. Such illiteracy led to the death of a huge number of people, it took decades for humanity to seriously think about the cause of the tragic consequences of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station.