observations chernobyl

16
30 Summer 2010 21st Century Science & Technology T en days after two steam and hydrogen explosions blew up the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, the fire that melted its core died out spontaneously. But the drama of this catastrophe still flourishes, nourished by politics, authorities, media, and interest groups of ecologists, charitable organizations, and scientists. It lives in the collective memory of the world and propagates real health, social, and eco- nomic harm to millions of people in Be- larus, Russia, and the Ukraine. It is ex- ploited in attempts to strangle the development of atomic energy, the cleanest, safest, and practically inex- haustible means to meet the world's en- ergy needs. The world’s uranium re- sources alone will suffice for the next 470,000 years (IAEA 2008). Chernobyl was indeed an historic event; it is the only nuclear power sta- tion disaster that ever resulted in an oc- cupational death toll, albeit a compara- tively small one. A vast environmental dispersion of radioactivity occurred that did not cause any scientifically con- firmed fatalities in the general population. The worst harm to the population was caused not by radiation, and not to flesh, but to minds. This catastrophe provided many in- valuable lessons. One of them is a rec- ognition of the absurdity of the prevail- ing linear no-threshold hypothesis (LNT), which assumes that even near- zero radiation dosage can lead to can- cer death and hereditary disorders. That the LNT is false, is shown by observing that such damage did not occur after Chernobyl. Chernobyl was the worst possible catastrophe. It happened in a danger- ously constructed nuclear power reac- tor with a total meltdown of the core and 10 days of free emission of radionu- clides into the atmosphere. Probably Vadim Mouchkin/IAEA Aerial view of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant encased in its sarcophagus. Observations on Chernobyl After 25 Years of Radiophobia by Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc. The worst possible nuclear plant accident produced no scientifically confirmed fatalities in the general population. But there was enormous political and psychological damage, mainly the result of belief in the lie that any amount of radiation is bad.

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Page 1: Observations Chernobyl

30 Summer2010 21st Century Science & Technology

TendaysaftertwosteamandhydrogenexplosionsblewuptheChernobylnuclearreactor,thefirethatmelteditscorediedoutspontaneously.Butthedramaofthiscatastrophe

stillflourishes,nourishedbypolitics,authorities,media,andinterestgroupsofecologists,charitableorganizations,andscientists.Itlivesinthecollectivememoryoftheworldandpropagatesrealhealth,social,andeco-nomicharmtomillionsofpeopleinBe-larus,Russia,andtheUkraine.Itisex-ploited in attempts to strangle thedevelopment of atomic energy, thecleanest, safest, and practically inex-haustiblemeanstomeettheworld'sen-ergy needs. The world’s uranium re-sources alonewill suffice for thenext470,000years(IAEA2008).

Chernobyl was indeed an historicevent;itistheonlynuclearpowersta-tiondisasterthateverresultedinanoc-cupationaldeathtoll,albeitacompara-

tively small one. A vast environmental dispersion ofradioactivityoccurredthatdidnotcauseanyscientificallycon-firmedfatalitiesinthegeneralpopulation.Theworstharmtothepopulationwascausednotbyradiation,andnottoflesh,

buttominds.This catastrophe provided many in-

valuablelessons.Oneofthemisarec-ognitionoftheabsurdityoftheprevail-ing linear no-threshold hypothesis(LNT),which assumes that evennear-zeroradiationdosagecanleadtocan-cerdeathandhereditarydisorders.ThattheLNTisfalse,isshownbyobservingthat such damage did not occur afterChernobyl.

Chernobyl was the worst possiblecatastrophe. It happened in a danger-ouslyconstructednuclearpowerreac-torwith a totalmeltdownof the coreand10daysoffreeemissionofradionu-clides into the atmosphere. Probably

Vadim Mouchkin/IAEA

AerialviewoftheChernobylnuclearpowerplantencasedinitssarcophagus.

Observations on ChernobylAfter 25 Years of Radiophobia

byZbigniewJaworowski,M.D.,Ph.D.,D.Sc.

The worst possible nuclear plant accident produced no scientifically confirmed fatalities in the general population. But there was enormous political and psychological damage, mainly the result of belief in the lie that any amount of radiation is bad.

Page 2: Observations Chernobyl

21st Century Science & Technology Summer2010 31

nothingworsecouldhappen.Yet,theresultinghumanlosses,althoughtragic,wereminuteincomparisonwithcatastrophesfromotherener-gysources.

Highlysensitivemonitoringsystemsthathadbeendevelopedinmanycountriesforthede-tectionoffalloutfromnuclearweaponsenabledeasydetectionofminuteamountsofChernobyldust,eveninremotecornersoftheworld.Thisaddedtoglobalepidemicsoffearinducedbytheaccident.

Radioactivedebriswasdispersedintothetro-posphere and stratosphere of the NorthernHemisphere.up toat least15kmaltitude (Ja-worowskiandKownacka1994).Onthefirstfewdaysaftertheaccident,theconcentrationsofradiocesiummeasuredatthisaltitudeoverPo-land(maximum36.1mBq/cubicmeteratstan-dardtemperatureandpressure,orSTP)was2to6percentofthatatthegroundlevel.Suchahighverticaldistributionandmixingenabledasmallportion of Chernobyl debris to pass over the

equatorialconvergenceand intotheSouthernHemisphere(Philip-pot 1990), and on to the SouthPole(Dibbetal.1990,Philippot1990).Thiswasnotinagreementwithcomputer-generatedmodelsofnuclearaccidents,whichpro-jectedamaximumupliftoffissionproducts to below 3,000 metersaltitude (ApSimon et al. 1985,ApSimonandWilson1987).

Enormousamountsofradionu-clides entered the air from theburning reactor. Yet the totalemissionwas200timeslessthanfromallofthe543nuclearwar-heads exploded in the atmo-sphere since 1945. The highestestimated radiation dose expo-sure to the average member oftheworldpopulationwas0.113mSv, recorded in 1963 (UN-SCEAR1988).Theradiationdos-esfromChernobyldustwereesti-matedandcomparedwithnaturaldoses by UNSCEAR (2000a).Duringthefirstyearaftertheac-cident,theaveragedosereceivedby an average inhabitant of theNorthern Hemisphere was esti-mated by UNSCEAR as 0.045mSv,thatis,lessthan2percentoftheaverageglobalannualnaturaldose(2.4mSvperyear).

During thenext70years, theglobal population will be ex-posedtoatotalChernobyldose

Ukrainian Society for Friendship and Cultrual Relations with Foreign Countries

AhelicopterattheChernobylsitein1986,checkingthedamagetothereactor.

Figure 1WORLDWIDE

RADIATION DOSES COMPARED WITH

CHERNOBYLAverageannualradiationdosesfromnaturalandman-madesources,worldwide,nearChernobyl,andinareasofhighnaturalradiation.TheradiationfromChernobylisdwarfedincompari-sonwithnaturalbackgoundradia-tion.Source: Based on UNSCEAR (1988, 1993, 1998, 2000b)

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ofapproximately0.14mSv,or0.08percentofthenaturallife-timedoseof170mSv.PeoplelivinginthemostcontaminatedareasoftheformerSovietUnionreceivedanaverageindividualannualwhole-bodyradiationdosein1986-1995of0.9mSvinBelarus, 0.76 mSv in Russia, and 1.4 mSv in Ukraine (UN-SCEAR2000b).Averagedosesestimatedfortheperiod1986-2005are2.4mSvinBelarus,1.1mSvinRussia,and1.2mSvinUkraine(UNSCEAR2008),respectively.

Allthesedosesaredwarfedincomparisonwithnaturalradia-tiondosesinsomepartsoftheworld.Forexample,inRamsar,Iran, natural radiation doses reach more than 400 mSv/year(Mortazawietal.2006),andinBrazilandsouthwesternFrance,naturalradiationdosesreachuptomorethan700mSvperyear(UNSCEAR2000b).(SeeFigure1.)

Acomparisonofthesedosesandepidemiologicalobserva-tionsshouldbeabasisofrealisticestimatesofthelatentmedi-calconsequencesoftheChernobylaccident,ratherthanriskfactorsbasedontheLNT.Suchacomparison,andthecom-parativelyminutehealthconsequences,wereapparentsoonaf-terthecatastrophe(Jaworowski1988),butthisinformationwasnotsharedwiththepublic.Recentlythewell-knownBritishen-vironmentalistJamesLovelock,bestknownforhisGaiatheory,dispelledatlengthalltheusualmythsthatsurroundtheCher-nobylaccident.Lovelockstatedthatformanyyearsthescien-tistswhocouldhavechallengedthenonsenseaboutthecatas-trophechosetokeepquiet(Murphy2009).Idonotfeelguilty.

Noharmfulhealtheffectshaveeverbeendetectedinhighnaturalbackgroundradiationareas.Thisisconsistentwithoth-erstudiesoftheincidenceofcancersinexposedpopulations.IntheUnitedStatesandinChina,forexample,theincidenceofcancerswasfoundtobelowerinregionswithhighnaturalra-diationthaninregionswithlownaturalradiation(Frigerioetal.1973,FrigerioandStowe1976,Wei1990).AmongBritishradi-ologistsexposedmainlytoX-rays,cancermortalitywasfoundtobelowerbyabout50percentthanthatintheaveragemalepopulationofEnglandandWales(Berringtonetal.2001).

Also, inotherpopulationgroupsexposed to lowdosesofionizingradiation(i.e.,patientsdiagnosedwithiodine-131andX-rays,dialpainters,chemists,andothersexposedtoingestedorinhaledradiumorplutonium,personsexposedtohigherlev-elsofindoorradon,andA-bombsurvivors)alowerpercentageofneoplasticmalignancieswasobserved(Cohen2000,Luckey2003,UNSCEAR1994).ATaiwan studyof several thousandresidentsofapartmentscontaminatedwithcobalt-60,whohadbeenchronicallyexposedtogammarays forup to20years,withtotaldosesestimatedtorangefrom120to4,000mSv,re-vealedthatthecancermortalityandcongenitalmalformationsoftheseresidentssubstantiallydecreasedratherthanincreased(Chenetal.2004),suggestingastimulatingorhormeticeffectoflowdosesoflowlinear-energy-transfer(LET)ionizingradia-tion.

Thisfindingwaspartiallyconfirmedbyalaterstudyoncan-cerincidenceinasimilarTaiwancohort,inwhichforallcan-cers(exceptleukemiaandsolidcancers),withthenumberofcancercasesrangingfrom119to190,therewasadeficitofin-cidencefoundincomparisonwiththeunexposedpopulation.Ingroupsofalltypesofleukemiaandofsomesolidcancersofparticularorgans,thenumberofcaseswas1to2ordersofmag-nitudesmallerthaninthefirstthreegroups(Hwang2008).

About3,000reportsonradiationhormesiswererecentlyre-viewed (Luckey 2003). In one study, among approximately200,000American,British,andCanadiannuclearworkersex-posedtoradiation,thetotalcancerdeathsrangedfrom27per-cent to 72 percent of the total cancer deaths in the controlgroupofnon-nuclearworkers(Luckey2003).Suchanhormeticdeficit invalidates theLNT,because theconceptofhormesistranscendsanyhypothesizeddosethresholdforexcesscancers.Iftherewerenohormesis,theexistenceofatruethresholdforexcesscancersmightbeimpossibletodemonstraterigorously,because of the statistical problems of proving an absoluteequalityofeffectinanepidemiologicalstudyataverylowdoselevel.If,however,adeficitofcancersisobservedinthepopula-tion irradiatedata relatively lowdose level,as inhormesis,thereisoftenastatisticallysignificantdifferenceatanaccept-ableconfidencelevel(Webster1993).ThisremarkofWebster,anUNSCEARmember,reflectsdiscussionsintheCommitteeduringpreparationofitsreportonhormesis(UNSCEAR1994).

A more recent study, based on collective doses for about400,000nuclearworkers,founda31percentdecreaseinrela-tivecancermortality(Cardisetal.2007),butneverthelesscon-cludedthatthesecancerdeathdatawereconsistentwiththeLNTrelationship.Thisconclusionwasbasedonanad hocac-ceptedassumptionofaconfounding“healthyworker”effectforthe studiedcohort. Itwas assumed that thenuclearworkerswereselectedforemploymentbecausetheyweremorehealthy.However,theexistenceofthiseffectwasnotsupportedbytheirdataorbyanyotherfactualevidence.

The“healthyworker”effectcouldbecorrectlyassumedonlyifthecancermarkerdiagnostics(ACS2009)andgenetictestswereusedinpre-employmentscreeningandselectionoftheseworkers.ButtheseprocedureswerenotappliedintheCardisetal.cohort,andevennowtheyarenotrecommendedbytheIn-

Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy

AnorangefromRamsar,Iran,theregionwithoneofthehighestnaturalbackgroundradiationlevelsintheworld.TheRamsarpopulationhaslowercancerratesthanthoseofotherareas.Noharmfulhealtheffectshaveeverbeendetectedinhighnaturalbackgroundradiationareas.

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ternationalCommissiononRadiologicalProtection,thedirec-tivesof theEuropeanUnion,or the IAEA InternationalBasicSafetyStandards.Thus,thisassumptionisinvalidandexplainsnothing.

Ontheotherhand,thestatisticalre-analysisofCardisetal.data clearly documents that their assumption of a “healthyworker”effectwasincorrect,andtheirdataindicatedthatlowdosesofionizingradiationinducedahormeticeffectintheex-posednuclearworkers(FornalskiandDobrzynski2009).

Chernobyl vs. Other Industrial AccidentsIntermsofhumanlosses(therewere31earlydeaths)theac-

cidentintheChernobylnuclearpowerplantwasaminoreventcomparedwithmanyothermajorindustrialcatastrophes.Inthe20thCentury,morethan10suchcatastropheshaveoccurred,withtensofthousandsoffatalitiesineach.Forexample,coalsmogkilledapproximately12,000peopleinLondon,betweenDecember1952andFebruary1953(BellandDavis2001).TheannualdeathtollfromaccidentsinChinesecoalminesreached70,000deathsinthe1950s,and10,000inthe1990s(WNA2009).In1984,about20,000peopleperishedafteranexplo-sioninapesticidefactoryinBhopal,India(DharaandDhara2002);andthecollapseofahydroelectricdamontheBanqiaoriverinChinain1975caused230,000fatalities(Altius2008,McCully1998,Yi1998).

Theworlddoesnotcelebratetheanniversariesoftheseenor-mousman-madedisasters,butyearafteryearwedosoforthehundredsandthousandsoftimeslessdeadlyChernobylacci-

dent.TenyearsagoIdiscussedthepossiblecausesofthispara-noiac phenomenon (Jaworowski 1999). Measured as earlydeathsperelectricityunitsproducedbytheChernobylfacility(nineyearsofoperation,totalelectricityproductionof36giga-wattsofelectricity(GWe),31earlydeaths)yields0.86deaths/GWe-year).Thisrateislowerthantheaveragefatalitiesfromamajorityofotherenergysources.

Forexample, theChernobyl rate is9 times lower than thedeathratefromliquefiedgas(Hirschbergetal.1998)and47times lower than from hydroelectric stations (40.19 deaths/GWe-year including the Banqiao disaster). But the political,economic,social,andpsychologicalimpactofChernobylwasenormous.Let’sexaminewhathappenedstartingwithmyper-sonalexperience.

Psychology Tuned by LNTAtabout9A.M.onMonday,April28,1986,attheentrance

tomyinstituteinWarsaw,Iwasgreetedbyacolleaguewhosaid:“Look,at7:00wereceivedatelexfromamonitoringsta-tioninnorthernPolandsayingthatthebetaradioactivityoftheairthereis550,000timeshigherthanthedaybefore.Ifoundasimilarincreaseintheairfilterfromthestationinourbackyard,andthepavementhereishighlyradioactive.”

Thiswasaterribleshock.Myfirstthoughtwas,ANUCLEARWAR!Itiscuriousthatallmyattentionwasconcentratedonthisenormousriseoftotalbetaactivityintheairusedtomonitorra-diationemergenciesfromnucleartestfallout.ManyyearsspentduringtheColdWaronpreparationstodefendthePolishpopu-lationagainsttheeffectsofanuclearattackhadconditionedmycolleaguesandmetohavesuchanexaggeratedreaction.

Wereactedthatwayalthoughweknew,thatonthisfirstdayofChernobylinPoland,thedoserateofexternalgammaradia-tionpenetratingourbodieswashigheronlybya factorof3fromthedaybefore,anditwassimilartotheaveragenaturalradiationdoseswhichfromtimeimmemorialwehavereceivedfromgroundandcosmicradiation.At11A.M.,afterwehadcollected enough dust from the air for gamma spectrometrymeasurements, we discovered that it contained cesium-134.Thus,weknewthatitssourcewasnotanatomicbomb,butanuclear reactor.Thiswas tranquilizingnews,whichdidnot,however,calmourfranticbehavior.

In1986,theimpactofadramaticincreaseinatmosphericradioactivity dominated my thinking—and everybody else’s.Thisstateofmindledtoimmediateconsequences.Firsttherewerevarioushecticactions,suchasad hoccoiningofdifferentlimitsforradionuclidesinfood,water,andotherthings.Inpar-ticularcountries,theselimitsvariedbyafactorofmanythou-sands, reflectingvariouspoliticalandmercenary factorsandtheemotionalstatesofthedecisionmakers.

Forexample,Swedenallowedfor30timesmoreradioactiv-ityinimportedvegetablesthanindomesticones,andIsraelal-lowedlessradioactivityinfoodfromEasternEuropethanfromWesternEurope.Thecesium-137concentrationlimitinvegeta-blesimposedinthePhilippineswas22Bqperkg,8,600timeslowerthaninthemorepragmaticUnitedKingdom(SaloandDaglish1988).InPoland,agroupofnuclearphysicistsanden-gineersproposedacesium-137limitof27Bqin1kilogramforanykindoffood,but,fortunately,theauthoritiesdecidedmoresoberlyandimposeda1,000Bqlimit.

Animaginarysix-footchickenfromChernobyl,writtenupasnewsintheNationalEnquirerin1986.Otherproductsofhys-teria about Chernobyl radiation, including doctored photos,arestillincirculation.

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Behind these restrictions, mean-inglessfromthepointofviewofhu-manhealth,stoodthree factors: (1)emotion; (2) the LNT mindset andthe international recommendationsbasedonit;and(3)asocialneedtofollowanoldmedicalrule,Ut aliquit fecisse videatur (to make it appearthatsomethingisbeingdone).Thatthird factorwasaplacebousedbythe authorities to dodge the worstkindofcriticism,i.e.,accusationsofinactivityinthefaceofamonstrousdisaster.ThisledtoanoverreactioninEuropeandinsomeothercoun-tries, but at the greatest scale andwiththemostsevereconsequencesintheSovietUnion.

The High-Cost of HysteriaThecostsoftheseregulationswere

enormous.Forexample,Norwegianauthoritiesintroducedacesium-137concentration limit of 6,000 Bq/kgin reindeer meat and game, and a600Bq/kglimitforsheep(Henriksenand Saxebol 1988). A Norwegianeatsanaverageof0.6kgofreindeermeatperyear.Theaverageradiationdosefromeatingthisamountofmeatisestimatedtobeabout0.047mSvper year. Thus, this measure wasaimed toprotectNorwegiansagainst a radiationdoseabout200timeslowerthanthenaturaldoseinsomeregionsofNor-wayof11mSvperyear(UNSCEAR1982).

Thecostsofthisprotectionclimbedtoover$70millionin1986,andinthe1990sitwasstillabout$4millionperyear(Christensen1989,IdasandMyhre1994).Thismeansthatun-necessaryandwastefulrestrictions,onceimplementedundertheinfluenceoftheabovethreefactors,havealonglifetime.

Thehystericalreactionofauthorities,furtherexcitedbyex-tremelyexaggeratedmediareports,iswellexemplifiedbytheJapanesegovernment’scancellationofaseveral-hundred-mil-lion(inU.S.dollars)contractforshippingPolishbarleytoJapanfortheproductionofbeer.ThishappenedinMay1986,afewdaysaftercompletelyfalseinformationofextremecontamina-tionofPolandbyChernobylfalloutappearedonthefrontpageofthebiggestJapanesedaily,Asahi Shimbun.Itscreamedwithblockletters,“DUSTOFDEATHINPOLAND,”anditcitedmynameasthesourceoftheinformation.

IwasaskedbythePolishgovernmenttowriteatextinEnglishwhichmightbeusedtoavertthislossofmoney.IdidthisduringaweekendspentwithmywifeinourcottageonthebanksoftheVistula,togetherwithJohnDavis,theAmericanambassadortoPoland, andhis charmingwife,Helene.When I finishedmywritingassignment, I asked John tocorrect the language.HesaidthattheEnglishwasalmostOK,butnotexactlyinproperdiplomaticstyle.Hethenproceededtochangethetextcom-pletely.

OnMondayaspokesmanforthecommunist government asked metoreadthetextathispressconfer-ence.Ipresentedthetalk,butafterIfinished,hedistributedcopiesofthetalktothewaitingflockofjournal-ists.Hewastotallyunawarethatthewritten text hadbeenpreparedbytheU.S.ambassador.AvisitbytheJapaneseambassadortoourCentralLaboratoryforRadiationProtectionmanagedtosalvagethecontract.

Afewdayslater,AmbassadorDa-vis arranged an international dealforshipmentbyairoflargequanti-ties of powdered milk for Polishchildren, to replenish strategic re-serves that were rapidly being de-pleted.This was not an easy task,becauseother Europeancountries,inasimilarpositiontoours,refusedtoselltheirmilk.Aswenowknow,during thenext fouryears theDa-vises played a delicate but pivotalroleinrealizingamajorgoalforthepeople of Poland, the Solidaritymovement’s victory over commu-nism (Davis 2009, Davis et al.2006).Asexplainedbelow,Solidar-ity’striumphwasrelatedtotheCher-nobylaccident.

The Costly Folly of LNTAclassicexampleofwastefullyapplyingtheLNTprincipleto

theChernobylemergencywasprovidedbySwedishradiation-protectionauthorities.WhenthefarmersnearStockholmdis-covered that theChernobylaccidenthadcontaminated theircows’milkwithcesium-137,abovethelimitof300Bqperliterimposedbyauthorities,theywrotetheauthoritiestoaskiftheirmilkcouldbedilutedwithuncontaminatedmilkfromotherre-gions,tobringitbelowthelimit.Thiswouldbedonebymixing1literofcontaminatedmilkwith10litersofcleanmilk.

Tothefarmers’surpriseanddisappointment,theanswerwas“no,”andthemilkwasthentobediscarded.Thiswasastrangerulingsinceithasalwaysbeenpossibletoreducepollutantstosaferlevelsbydilution.Wedothisforotherpollutantsinfood-stuffs,andwedilutefumesfromfireplacesorovenswithatmo-sphericairinthesamewaythatnaturedilutesvolcanicemis-sionsor forest fire fumes.TheSwedish authorities explainedthateventhoughtheindividualriskcouldbereducedbydilut-ingthemilk,thiswould,atthesametime,increasethenumberofconsumers.Thus,theriskwouldremainthesame,butnowspreadoveralargerpopulation(Walinder1995).

Althoughridiculous,thiswasafaithfulapplicationoftheIn-ternational Commission on Radiological Protection recom-mendations,basedontheLNTassumptionanditsoffspring,theconceptof“collectivedose”;thatis,reachingterrifyinglylargenumbersofman-sievertsbymultiplyingtiny,innocuousindi-vidualradiationdosesbyalargenumberofexposedpeople.

Katarzyna Dopieralska-Skowronska

AuthorZbigniewJaworowski,speakinghereata2005geophysicalmeetinginWarsaw.

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Inanearlierpaper,IexposedthenegativeconsequencesandlackofsenseintheLNTassumption,andthecollectivedoseanddose-commitmentconcepts(Jaworowski1999).Theappli-cationoftheseprincipleshascausedthecostsoftheChernobylaccident to exceed $100 billion inWestern Europe (Becker1996),andmuchmoreinpost-Sovietcountrieswhereithasledtountoldsufferingandthepauperizationofmillionsofpeople.Theinternationalinstitutionsstandingbehindthisassumptionandtheseconceptscertainlywillnotadmitresponsibilityfortheirdisastrousconsequences.Theyshould.

Some LNT HistoryThelinearno-thresholdhypothesiswasacceptedin1959by

theInternationalCommissiononRadiologicalProtection(ICRP1959) as the philosophical basis for radiological protection.Thisdecisionwasbasedonthefirstreportofthenewlyestab-lishedUnitedNationsScientificCommitteeon theEffectsofAtomicRadiation(UNSCEAR1958).Alargepartofthisreportwasdedicatedtoadiscussionoflinearityandofthethresholddoseforadverseradiationeffects.

Fiftyyearsago,UNSCEAR’sstandonthissubjectwasformedafteranin-depthdebatethatwasnotwithoutinfluencefromthepoliticalatmosphereandissuesofthetime.TheSoviet,Czecho-slovakian,andEgyptiandelegationstoUNSCEARstronglysup-portedtheLNTassumption,anduseditasabasisforrecom-mendationofanimmediatecessationofnucleartestexplosions.TheLNTwasalsosupportedby theSovietUnionduring thelateryearsof theColdWar (Jaworowski2009),and thiswasconsistentwiththethinkingofAmericanauthorities.

Thetargettheoryprevailinginthe1950sandthethennewre-sultsofgeneticexperimentswithfruitfliesirradiatedwithhighdosesanddoserates,stronglyinfluencedthisdebate.In1958,UNSCEARstatedthatcontaminationoftheenvironmentbynu-clearexplosionsincreasedradiationlevelsallovertheworldandthusposednewandunknownhazards forpresentand futuregenerations.Thesehazards,UNSCEARstated,cannotbecon-trolled,and“eventhesmallestamountsofradiationareliabletocausedeleteriousgenetic,andperhapsalsosomatic,effects.”

This sentencehadanenormous impact in subsequentde-cades, and has been repeated in a plethora of publications.Eventoday,itistakenasanarticleoffaithbythepublic.How-ever,throughouttheentire1958report,theoriginalUNSCEARviewonLNTremainedambivalent.Asanexample,UNSCEARacceptedasathresholdforleukemiaadoseof4,000mSv(page42);butatthesametime,theCommitteeacceptedariskfactorfor leukemia of 0.52 percent per 1,000 mSv, assuming LNT(page115).Thecommitteequiteopenlypresentedthisdifficul-ty,andshoweditsconsequencesinatable(page42).

Continuation of nuclear weapons tests in the atmospherewasestimatedtocause60,000leukemiacasesworldwide,ifnothresholdwereassumed,andzeroleukemiacasesifathresholdof4,000mSvwereinplace.Initsfinalconclusions,UNSCEARpinpointedthisdilemma:“Linearityhasbeenassumedprimar-ilyforpurposesofsimplicity,”and“Theremayormaynotbeathresholddose.Thetwopossibilitiesofthresholdandno-thresh-oldhavebeenretainedbecauseof theverygreatdifferencestheyengender.”

After ahalf-century,we still discuss the sameproblem. In1958,UNSCEARhadnodoubtsaboutmajorgeneticdefectsintheworldpopulationthatcouldbecausedbynucleartestfall-out,andestimatedthemashighas40,000.Butlater,theCom-mitteelearnedthatevenamongthechildrenofhighlyirradiat-ed survivors of atomic bombings, no statistically significantgeneticdamagecouldbedemonstrated(UNSCEAR2001).

However,intheInternationalCommissiononRadiologicalProtectiondocumentof1959,nosuchcontroversyandnohes-itationsappeared.TheLNTwasarbitrarilyassumed,andseri-ous epistemological problems related to the impossibility offindingharmfuleffectsatverylowlevelsofradiationwereig-nored.Overtheyears,theworkingassumptionoftheInterna-tionalCommissionin1959cametoberegardedasascientifi-callydocumentedfactbythemassmedia,publicopinion,andevenmanyscientists.TheLNTassumption,however,isnotaprovenscientificprinciple,andbelongsintherealmofadmin-istration(Jaworowski2000).

LNT ad AbsurdumTheabsurdityoftheLNTwasbroughttolightin1987,when

minutedosesofChernobyl radiationwereused to calculate

Elisabeth Zeiller/IAEA

Alocalmarket,wherefoodsamplesweretakenforuseintheIAEAdietstudyoftheChernobylAssessmentProject.Thehys-teriaaroundtheaccidentandtheadherencetotheLNTthesisledtowidelyvaryingregulationsrestrictingfoodusethatcostEuropeannationsmillionsofdollars.

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that53,000peoplewoulddieofChernobyl-induced cancers over the next 50 years(Goldman et al. 1987). This frighteningdeathtollcalculationwasderivedsimplybymultiplying the triflingChernobyldoses intheUnitedStates(0.0046mSvperperson)bythevastnumberofpeoplelivingintheNorthernHemisphere,andbyacancerriskfactorbasedonepidemiologicalstudiesof75,000atomicbombsurvivorsinJapan.

But theA-bombsurvivordataareirrele-vanttosuchestimatesbecauseofthediffer-enceintheindividualdosesanddoserates.A-bombsurvivorswereflashedwithinlessthan a second by radiation doses at least50,000timeshigherthananydosethatU.S.inhabitantswilleverreceiveoveraperiodof50yearsfromtheChernobylfallout.

We have reliable epidemiological datafor adose rateofperhaps1,000or6,000mSvpersecondinJapaneseA-bombsurvi-vors.Buttherearenosuchdataforhumanexposureatadoserateof0.0045mSvover50 years, nor will there ever be any.ThedoserateinJapanwaslargerbyafactorofabout1012thantheChernobyldoserateintheUnitedStates.Extrapolatingoversuchavast span is neither scientifically justifiednor epistemologically acceptable. It is also morally suspect(Walinder1995).Indeed,LauristonTaylor,thelatepresidentoftheU.S.NationalCouncilonRadiologicalProtectionandMea-surements,deemedsuchextrapolationstobea“deeplyimmor-aluseofourscientificheritage”(Taylor1980).

Initsdocumentonprotectionofthepublicinamajorradia-tionemergency,theInternationalCommissiononRadiologicalProtectionrecommendedtheadministrationofstableiodine,intheformoftabletstobetakenbefore,orassoonaspossibleaf-ter,thestartofexposuretoradioactiveiodine-131(ICRP1984).TheCommissionadvisedapplyingthisprophylacticmeasuretoeverybody—pregnant women, neonates, young infants, andadults—startingattheprojectedthyroiddoseof50mSv.ThisrecommendationwasbasedontheLNTdogma.WefolloweditinPoland.

InthelateafternoonofApril28,1986,welearnedfromtheBBCthattherewasareactoraccidentinChernobyl.Wehadseen the radioactivecloudflowingoverPoland fromeast towest,andwehadthefirstdataonconcentrationlevelsofradio-iodineingrassandsoilineasternPolandandinWarsaw.Usingthesedata,IcalculatedthatcontaminationofthyroidglandsofPolishchildrenmightreachalimitof50mSv,andmuchmoreifthesituationinChernobylandweatherconditionsfurtherag-gravatedthesituation.

Meaningless Administration of Stable IodineInourInstitutewehadnoinformationfromtheSovietUnion

onthecurrentstateofaffairsorofanyprojectionsregardingthebehaviorofthedestroyedreactor.Therefore,weassumedthatinthenextfewdaystheradioactivityintheairwouldincreaseandcoverthewholecountry.Wepreparedaportfolioofcoun-

termeasurestobeimplementedbythegovernment.Ipresentedthisprojectatameetingofthedeputyprimemin-

ister,severalministers,andhighrankingsecretariesoftheCen-tralCommitteeofthePolishUnitedWorkersParty,atabout4A.M.onApril29.Themost importantmeasure recommend-ed—andalsoacceptedafterashortdiscussionbythismixtureofgovernmentandpartyofficials—wasstableiodineprophy-laxistoprotect thethyroidglandsofchildrenagainst iodine-131irradiation.

Administrationofstableiodineinliquidform(asasolutionofLugol)wasinitiatedinthenortheasternpartofPoland,approxi-mately38hoursafterwediscoveredtheChernobylfallout(atapproximatelymidnightonApril28).Treatmentwasgivenforthenextthreedays,andabout18.5millionpeople,includingadults,receivedthestableiodinedrug.

Wewereabletoperformthisactionsuccessfullybecausewehadalreadymadeplansforimplementingnuclearwaremer-gencymeasures.Inthe1960s,ourInstitutehadrecommendedthatthegovernmentprepareforsuchaneventbydistributingstrategicstoresofstableiodineatsitesalloverthecountry,astheonlyreasonablemeasureagainstbodycontaminationfromfissionproducts.Theprogramwas implemented in theearly1970s,andeachPolishpharmacy,hospital,andvariousotherinstitutionshadlargesuppliesofiodine.

AtthetimeoftheChernobylaccident,Polandhadmorethanenoughiodinereadyforuseforapproximately100dosesforeachPolishcitizen.Afewyearsafterthecatastrophe,itwases-timatedthatinthemorecontaminatedpartsofthecountrytheaverage thyroid radiation dose in the 1- to 10-year-old agegroupwasabout70mSv,andinabout5percentofchildrenthemaximumdosewasabout200mSv(Krajewski1991).

Courtesy of Zbigniew Jaworowski

Prophylacticdosesofstableiodinewereadministeredinliquidform(Lugol)with-inthreedaysoftheChernobylaccidentto18.5millionchildrenandadultsinPo-land.InagreementwiththerecommendationsoftheInternationalCommissiononRadiologicalProtectionandtheInternationalAtomicEnergyAgency(allbasedontheLNT),theauthorhadrecommendedthisvastoperationtothePolishgov-ernment.Now,heregardsthisactionasfutile.

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Adecadelater,welearnedthatamongthemorethan34,000Swedish patients who were not suspected of having thyroidcancers,andwhosethyroidswereirradiatedwithiodine-131uptodosesof40,000mSv(averagedose1,100mSv),therewasnostatisticallysignificantincreaseinthyroidcancers,butrathera38percentdecreaseintheirincidence(Dickmanetal.2003,Halletal.1996,Holmetal.1988).

IfIknewthenwhatIknowtoday,Iwouldnothaverecom-mendedtothePolishgovernmentsuchavastprophylacticac-tion,notbecauseofitsallegedlyadversemedicaleffects—therewerenone(Nauman1989)—butbecauseitspracticalpositivehealtheffectwasmeaningless.

Harmful Mass EvacuationsThemostnonsensical,expensive,andharmfulaction,how-

ever,wastheevacuationof336,000peoplefromcontaminatedregionsoftheformerSovietUnion,wheretheradiationdosefromChernobylfalloutwasabouttwicethenaturaldose.Later,thislimitwasdecreasedtoevenbelowthenaturallevel,andwassomefivetimeslowerthantheradiationdoserateof5.25mSv/yearatGrandCentralStationinNewYorkCity,whichisconstructedwithnaturalgranite(Benensonetal.2006).

Contaminatedareasweredefinedasbeingthosewheretheaveragecesium-137grounddepositiondensityexceeded37kBqper square meter. In the Soviet Union, these areas covered146,100squarekilometers.TheChernobylfalloutofabout185kBqpersquaremeterormorealsocoveredlargeareasofAustria,Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, and Sweden (UNSCEAR 2000b).SmallareaswithChernobyl fallout, reachinguptoabout185kBqpersquaremeter,werealsofoundinothercountries(GreatBritain,Greece,Romania,Switzerland,andTurkey(EUR1996)).

Theaverageradiationdosesre-ceivedinareaswithacesium-137depositiondensityofabout37kBqpersquaremeterwereestimatedatabout1.6mSvduringthefirstyearaftertheChernobylaccident,andthe lifetime dose (after 70 years)waspredictedtoreach6mSv(UN-SCEAR1988).Thisactivitylevelis10 times lower than the averageamount (400kBqpersquareme-ter) of about 50 natural radionu-clidespresentina10-cm-thicklay-er of soil (Jaworowski 2002).Thecorresponding Chernobyl lifetimeradiation dose is 28 times lowerthan the average natural lifetimedoseofabout170mSv.Butthean-nualdosefrom37kBqofcesium-137persquaremeterwassimilarto the1mSv/yeardose limit rec-ommended by the InternationalCommission on Radiological Pro-tectionforthegeneralpopulation,andthisiswhyitwasacceptedbytheSovietauthoritiesasayardstickforremedialmeasures.

The evacuation caused greatharmtothepopulationsofBelarus,Russia,andtheUkraine.Itledtomasspsychosomaticdisturbances,greateconomiclossandtraumaticsocialconsequences.AccordingtoAcademicianLeonidA.Ilyin,theleadingRussianauthorityonradiationpro-tection, the mass relocation was implemented by the Sovietgovernment under the pressure of populists, ecologists, andself-appointedspecialists,anditwasdoneagainsttheadviceofthebestSovietscientists(Ilyin1995,Ilyin1996).Thereallydan-gerousairradiationdoserateof1Gy/houronApril26,1986(0.01Gy/hourtwodayslater)coveredanuninhabitedareaofonlyabout0.5squarekilometersintwopatches,reachinguptoadistanceof1.8kmsouthwestoftheChernobylreactor(UN-SCEAR2000b).

Basedonthesedata,therewasnovalidreasonforthemassevacuationof49,614residentsfromthecityofPripyatandthevillageofYanov,situatedabout3kmfromtheburningreactor.Inthesesettlements,theradiationdoserateintheaironApril26,1986was1mSv/hour (UNSCEAR2000b),and twodayslateritwasonly0.01mSv/hour.Thus,withasteadilydecreas-ingradioactivityfallout,thedoseratewasnotdangerousatall.

However,accordingtoL.A.Ilyin,oneoftheleadersoftheChernobylrescueteam,therewasadangerthatthecorium(themeltedcoreofthereactor,withatotalvolumeofabout200cu-bicmeters, amassof about540 tons, anda temperatureofabout 2000°C,) might penetrate down through the concretefloorandspreadtoroomsbelow.Theteamsuspectedthatintheserooms therecouldhavebeenagreatvolumeofwater,withwhich thecoriumcouldcomeintocontact.Thiswouldhaveledtoamuchmorepowerfulexplosionthantheinitialone, and caused a vastly greater emission of radioactivity,whichcouldhavecoveredPripyatandYanowwithlethalfall-

Petr Pavlicek/IAEA

TheghosttownofPripyatinJuly2005.Its47,000residents,including17,000children,werecompletelyevacuatedthedayaftertheaccidentin1986.Pripyatwasbuiltinthe1970stohouseChernobylworkersinthe1970s,itwasoneofthe“youngest”townsinthethenSo-vietUnion;theaverageageofitsinhabitantswas26.Today,itisfrozenintime.Theferriswheel(centerleft)ispartofanamusementparkthatneveropened.Itshouldberesettled!

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out.Therefore,theevacuationofthewholepopulationoftheselocalitieswasacorrectprecautionarymeasurethatwascarriedoutinanorderlymannerinonlytwohours.

Buttheevacuationandrelocationoftheremainingapproxi-mately286,000people,ofwhomtherewereabout220,000after1986(UNSCEAR2000b),wasanirrationaloverreaction,inducedinpartbytheinfluenceoftheInternationalCommis-sionofRadiologicalProtectionandInternationalAtomicEner-gyAgencyrecommendationsbasedon theLNT(Ilyin1995).ThecurrentreluctanceoftheUkrainianauthoritiestoresettletheresidentsbacktoPripyat(nowaslowlydecayingghosttownand tourist attraction) does not seem rational.The radiationdoseratemeasuredonApril10,2008inthestreetsofthiscityrangedfrom2.5to8.4mSv/year,i.e.,morethan10timeslowerthannaturalradiationinmanyregionsoftheworld(Fornalski2009).

Psychosomatic EpidemicsInadditiontothe28fatalitiesamongrescueworkersandem-

ployeesofthepowerstation,causedbyveryhighdosesofradia-tion(2.9-16Gy),and3deathsduetootherreasons(UNSCEAR2000b),theonlyrealadversehealthconsequencesoftheCher-nobylcatastropheamongapproximately5millionpeoplelivinginthecontaminatedregionsweretheepidemicsofpsychoso-maticafflictionsthatappearedasdiseasesofthedigestiveandcirculatory systems and other post-traumatic stress disorders,suchassleepdisturbance,headache,depression,anxiety,es-capism,learnedhelplessness,unwillingnesstocooperate,over-dependence,alcoholanddrugabuse,andsuicides.

ThesediseasesanddisturbancescouldnothavebeencausedbytheminuteirradiationdosesfromtheChernobylfallout(av-eragedoserateofabout1to2mSv/year),buttheywerecausedbyradiophobia,adeliberatelyinducedfearofradiation,aggra-vatedbywrongheadedadministrativedecisionsandeven,par-adoxically,byincreasedmedicalattention,whichleadstodi-agnosis of subclinical changes that persistently hold the

attentionofthepatient.Bad administrative decisions made several million people

believethattheywerevictims of Chernobyl,althoughtheaver-ageannualdosetheyreceivedfromChernobylradiationwasonlyaboutonethirdoftheaveragenaturaldose.ThiswasthemainfactorresponsiblefortheeconomiclossescausedbytheChernobylcatastrophe,estimatedtohavereached$148billionby2000fortheUkraine,andtoreach$235billionby2016forBelarus.

Psychologicalfactorsandafailuretoteachradiologicalpro-tectioninmedicalschoolcurriculamighthaveledtoabortionsofwantedpregnanciesinWesternEuropeduringtheperiodsoonafter theaccident,wherephysicianswronglyadvisedpatientsthatChernobylradiationposedahealthrisktounbornchildren.However,numericalestimatesofthiseffect(Ketchum1987,Spi-nelliandOsborne1991)castdoubtonthisassumption.

Similarlyuncertainareestimatesofthenumberofdecisionsagainstconceptionprobably taken inEuropeduring thefirstfewmonthsaftertheaccident(Trichopoulosetal.1987).Thisproblemwasdiscussedin1987byanIAEAAdvisoryGroup,whichconcludedthatmedicalpractitionershavingdirectcon-tactwiththepopulationatlargeareamongthemostimportantpersonswhomightdeveloptherightperceptionofrisksinnu-clearemergencies,preventsocialpanicandoverreactions,andhelptoensuretherationalbehaviorinthesociety.

Fornalski 2009

RadiationmeasurementinPripyatonApril10,2008atasportsstadiuminthedowntownareaoftheabandonedcity,whichisabout4kmnorthwestfromtheChernobylreactor.Thedoseratewas0.28µSv/houror2.5mSv/year.Thisismorethan10timeslowerthanthenaturalradiationinmanyareasoftheworld.

Petr Pavlicek/IAEA

AdoctorfromtheIAEAInternationalChernobylProjectexam-inesachildinUkraine,1990.AlthoughtheaverageradiationdosetotheseveralmillionpeoplearoundChernobylwasonlyaboutonethirdoftheaverageannualdosefromnaturalradia-tion, thepanicand radiophobiaafter theaccidentcreatedaclassof“Chernobylvictims,”withmanydisordersrelatedtora-diophobia,notactualradiationdose.

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AftertheChernobylaccidentthepublicveryoftenturnedforhelptomedicalpractitioners,butphysicianswereunabletopro-viderealisticadvice,evenonminorproblems.Thiswasbecausemedicalcurriculadidnotatthattimepreparedoctorsfornuclearemergencies.Innoneoftheninecountriesrepresentedatthemeetingweretheprinciplesofradiobiologyandradiationpro-tectionincludedinmedicalschoolcurricula(IAEA1987).Lackofknowledgeinthisimportantgroupwasamongthefactorsthatincreasedpublicanxietyandstress.Itseemsthatnow,twode-cadeslater,thesituationinthisrespectisverymuchthesame.

Effects of Chernobyl Fallout on the PopulationIn2000,theUnitedNationsScientificCommitteeontheEf-

fectsofAtomicRadiation(UNSCEAR2000b)andin2006,theUnitedNa-tionsChernobylForum(agroupcom-posed of representatives from eightU.N.organizations,theWorldBank,andthegovernmentsofBelarus,Rus-sia, and the Ukraine) stated in theirdocuments that, except for thyroidcancers in the population of highlycontaminatedareas,therewasnoob-served increase in the incidence ofsolid tumors and leukemia, and noobservedincreaseingeneticdiseases.Anincreaseinregistrationofthyroidcancers in children under 15 yearsoldwasfirstfoundin1987,oneyearaftertheaccident,intheBryanskre-gionofRussia,andthegreatestinci-dence, of 0.027 percent of childrenunder15wasfoundin1994.

Bothofthesestudiesweremadetooearlytobeinagreementwithwhatweknow about radiation-induced can-cers.Themeanlatencyperiodforma-

lignantthyroidtumorsinadultsandchildrenexposedtoexternalandinternalmedicalirradiationwithlessthan20tomorethan40Gyisabout28years(Kikuchietal.2004,UNSCEAR2000b).

Kikuchi et al. tried to explain the discrepancy be-tweentheclinicalexperienceandtheChernobylfind-ingswithsomeexoticideas,suchas,forexample,radia-tion leakage or other environmental conditions;exposuretocarcinogensthatoccurrednearChernobylpriortothenuclearaccident;andageneticpredisposi-tionofthepopulationtothyroidcancer.However,theserendipitouseffectofmassscreeninganddiagnosis,al-readysuspectedin1987,isamorelikelyexplanation.

The Clinical Screening EffectThenumberof4,000newthyroidcancersregistered

among the children from Belarus, Russia, and theUkraine should be viewed in the context of the ex-tremelyhighoccurrenceofthesedormantsubclinicalmalignanttumorsthatcontaintransformedtumorcells,whicharequitecommonintheworldpopulation(Ak-slenandNaumov2008,Weinberg2008).Forexample,

theincidenceofoccultthyroidcancers,variesfrom5.6percentinColombia,9.0percentinPoland,9.3percentinMinsk(Be-larus),13percentintheUnitedStates,and28percentinJapan,to35.6percentinFinland(Harachetal.1985,MoosaandMaz-zaferri1997).InFinland,thesedormantthyroidcancersareob-servedin2.4percentofchildren(Harachetal.1985),thatis,some90timesmorethanthemaximumobservedintheBry-anskregion,themostcontaminatedinRussia.

InMinsk,Belarus,thenormalincidenceofoccultthyroidcan-cersis9.3percent(Furmanchuketal.1993).The“Chernobyl”thyroidcancersareofthesamehistologicaltypeandaresimilarin invasiveness to theoccult cancers (Moosa andMazzaferri1997,TanandGharib1997).Since1995,thenumberofregis-

Elisabeth Zeiler/IAEA

Agroupofvillagersbeing interviewedfor the IAEAepidemiologicalstudyduringtheInternationalChernobylAssessmentProject.

Petr Pavlicek/IAEA

ThenewtownofSlavutich,50kmfromChernobyl,whichwasbuiltforthedisplacedpersonsofChernobyl.

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teredcancershastendedtodecline.Thisisnotinagreementwithwhatweknowaboutradiation-inducedthyroidcancers,whosela-tencyperiodisabout5-10yearsafterirradia-tionexposure(Inskip2001),andwhoseriskincreases until 15-29 years after exposure(UNSCEAR2000a).

IntheUnitedStatestheincidencerateofthyroidtumorsdetectedbetween1974and1979 during a screening program, was 21timeshigherthanbeforethescreening(Ronetal.1992),anincreasesimilartothatob-servedinthreeformerSovietcountries.Itap-pearsthattheincreasedregistrationofthy-roid cancers in contaminated parts of thecountriesaffectedbyChernobylisaclassi-calscreeningeffect.

AccordingtotheregulationsoftheBelar-usianMinistryofHealth,thethyroidsofallpeoplewhowereyoungerthan18in1986andthoseofeachinhabitantofcontaminat-ed areas must be diagnosed every year(Parshkovetal.2004).Morethan90percentofchildrenincontaminatedareasarenowexamined for thyroid cancers every yearwithultrasonographyandothermethods.Itisobviousthatsuchavast-scalescreening,probablythegreatestinthehistoryofmedi-cine,resultedinfindingthousandsoftheoc-cult cancers, or incidentalomas, expandedto forms detectable by modern diagnosticmethodsthatwerenotinroutineuseintheSovietUnionbefore1986.

Data for thepast20years,publishedbyIvanovetal. in2004andcited in theUN-SCEAR and Chernobyl Forum documents(Forum 2005, Forum 2006, Ivanov et al.2004,UNSCEAR2008)show,incomparisontotheRussiangeneralpopulation,thattherewasa15to30percentlowermortalityfromsolid tumorsamong theRussianChernobylemergencyworkers,anda5percent loweraverage solid tumor incidence among thepopulationoftheBryanskdistrict, themostcontaminatedinRussia(Figures2and3).

Inthemostexposedgroupofthesepeople(with an estimated average mean radiationdoseof40mSv),a17percentdecreaseintheincidence of solid tumors of all kinds wasfound.IntheBryanskdistrict, theleukemiaincidenceisnothigher thanintheRussiangeneralpopulation.AccordingtoUNSCEAR(2000b), no increase in birth defects, con-genitalmalformations,stillbirths,orprema-turebirthscouldbelinkedtoradiationexpo-sures causedby theChernobyl fallout.Thefinalconclusionof theUNSCEAR2000re-portisthatthepopulationofthethreemaincontaminatedareas,withacesium-137de-

Figure 2STANDARD MORTALITY RATIOS FOR SOLID CANCERS AMONG THE

RUSSIAN EMERGENCY WORKERSThevaluesofstandardmortalityratios(SMR)indicatehowthecancermor-talityofemergencyworkersdiffersfromthatofthegeneralpopulationofRussia,whichwasusedasacontrolgroup(SMR=1.0).Thedeficitofcan-cersamongtheseworkersbetween1990and1999,rangedbetween15per-centand30percent.Source: Ivanov et al. 2004, p. 225

Figure 3STANDARD INCIDENCE RATIOS FOR SOLID CANCERS IN THE

BRYANSK REGION OF RUSSIATheaveragedeficitofcancersintheinhabitantsoftheBryanskregionwas5percent,andinthemostexposedgroup(meanradiationdoseof40mGy)itwas17percent.Source: Ivanov et al. 2004, pp. 373-374

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positiondensitygreaterthan37kBq/squaremeter,neednotliveinfearofserioushealthconsequences,andforecaststhatgener-allypositiveprospectsforthefuturehealthofmostindividualsshouldprevail.

ThepublicationsoftheU.N.ChernobylForumpresentarath-erbalancedoverviewoftheChernobylhealthproblems,butwiththreeimpor-tant exceptions.Thefirst (mainlyafterCardisetal.2005)isignoringordown-playingtheeffectofscreeningforthy-roidcancersinabout90percentofthepopulation(seediscussionabove),andinterpretingtheresultswithalinearno-thresholddose-responsemodel.

ThepaperbyCardisetal.,however,wascriticizedforthisinterpretation,asnot confirmed by the data presentedandattributingmostofthethyroidcan-cerstoradiation(Scott2006).BoththeChernobyl Forum and the 2005 and2006papersbyCardisetal.ignoretheaforementioned fundamental problemofoccultthyroidcancersintheformerSovietUnionandelsewhereinEurope.

Theincidenceofthyroidoccultcan-cersincreasedrapidlyaftertheadventof new ultrasonography diagnostics(Topliss2004),reachingupto35.6per-cent(seeabove).Thisincidenceismorethan1,300timeshigherthanthemaxi-mum thyroid cancer incidence foundintheBryanskregionofRussiain1994(UNSCEAR 2000b), which implies avastpotentialforbias.ItseemsthattherestillhasnotbeenanepidemiologicalstudyofthetemporalchangesofintensityofthyroidscreeningintheformerSovietUnion.Theconclusionsof theepidemiologicalstudiesthatdidnottakeintoaccountthesechangesinscreeningmaybeinvalid.

IntheBryanskregionofRussia,thethyroidcancerincidence

was found tobe45percenthigher inmalesand90percenthigherinfemales,thanfortheRussianpopulationasawhole.However,whendose-responseanalyseswereperformed,usingexternalandinternalcomparisons,nopositiveassociationofthyroidcancerswithradiationdosewasobserved. Instead,anegativeassociationwasobserved,i.e.ahormeticeffect(Iva-

IAEA

CheckingradiationinahouseinthevillageofBabovichi,Rus-sianFederation,inAugust1990.

Figure 4CHERNOBYL RADIATION AFTER THE ACCIDENT

TheradiationdoserateinaironApril26,1986inthelo-calareaoftheChernobylreactor.Unitsoftheisolinesaresievertsperhour.Onlyinthetwopatchesinsidethe1Svisolineswerethedoserateslifeendangering,duringthefirsttwodays.Aftertwodays,thedoseratesdecreasedabout100times.Source: Adapted from UNSCEAR 2000

Figure 5RADIATION PLUMES AFTER THE CHERNOBYL ACCIDENT

Theplumesofradiationformedbymeteorologicalconditionsonthedaysfollow-ingMarch26,1986.ThedatesandtimesareindicatedinGreenwichMeanTime.Source: Adapted from UNSCEAR 2000

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novetal.2004).TheseresultsstronglysuggestthattheincreasedcancerratesinBryansk(and,byimplication,inothercontami-natedregions)comparedwithgeneralpopulationratesaretheresultofthyroidcancerscreeningandbetterreporting,ratherthanradiationexposure(Ron2007).

EvenmoreimportantaproblemintheU.N.ChernobylFo-rumreportwasthatitignoredthedecreaseofthyroidcancerincidenceofupto38percent,aftertheiodine-131treatmentofmanythousandsofnon-cancerpatientswiththyroidradiationdosessimilarto,orhigherthan,thosefromtheChernobylfall-out(Dickmanetal.2003,Halletal.1996,Holmetal.1991,andHolmetal.1988).

ThesecondproblemwiththeChernobylForumreportisesti-mationofdeathsamongthepatientswithacuteradiationdis-ease.Fromamong134personswiththisdiseasewhohadbeenexposedtoextremelyhighradiationdoses,31diedsoonaftertheaccident.Amongthe103survivors,19diedbefore2004.Mostofthesedeathswerecausedbysuchdisordersaslunggangrene,coronaryheartdisease,tuberculosis,livercirrhosis,fatembolism,andotherconditionsthatcanhardlybedefinedascausedbyionizingradiation.Nevertheless,theChernobylForumpresentsthemasaresultingfromhighirradiationandsumsthemuptoar-riveatatotalofapproximately50victimsofacuteirradiation.

Aftermany summers, all the103 survivorswill eventuallydie.TheChernobylForumphilosophywouldthencountthemall,yieldingaroundtotalof134victimsofhighirradiation.Infact,themortalityrateamongthese103survivorswas1.08per-centperyear,thatis,lessthantheaveragemortalityrateof1.5percentinthethreeaffectedcountriesin2000(GUS1991).

Andfinally,thethirdChernobylForum“problem”isitspro-jectionsoffuturefatalitiescausedbylow-levelChernobylradia-tion,from4,000uptoexactly9,935deaths.Thesenumbersare

notbasedonepidemiologicaldataofcancermortalityobservedduringthepast20yearsbyIvanovetal.NosuchincreasewasdemonstratedbyIvanovetal.(2004),butratherade-creaseofsolidtumorandleukemiadeaths among exposed people.Theseepidemiologicaldata,ratherthan the LNT assumption, shouldbeusedasthebasis forarealisticprojection of the future health ofthemillionsofpeopleofficiallyla-beled“victimsofChernobyl.”

However,theChernobylForuminsteadchosetousetheLNTradia-tion risk model (ICRP 1991) andperformedasimplisticarithmeticalexercise, multiplying small dosesbyagreatnumberofpeople,andincludingaradiationriskfactorde-ducedfromtheHiroshimaandNa-gasakistudies.

This is an entirely fallaciousmethod. People living in areashighlycontaminatedby theCher-nobyl fallout were irradiated dur-ing a protracted time. The dose

ratesinHiroshimaandNagasaki,incontrast,werehigherbyafactorofabout1011thantheaveragedoserateoftheChernobylvictimsthatwasusedintheForum’sprojections.Theresultofthisexerciseisnothingmorethanafantasticlie.

Severalscientificandradiationprotectionbodies,includingUNSCEAR,theHealthPhysicsSociety(Mossmanetal.1996),theFrenchAcademyofScience(Tubiana1998),andeventhechairmanoftheInternationalCommissiononRadiologicalPro-tection (Clarke 1999), advised against making such calcula-tions.MerelypublishingthesenumbersisharmfulandpetrifiestheChernobylfears.

Anyeffortstoexplaintheintricaciesofradiationriskassess-ments to the public, or to compare these numbers with themuchhigherlevelofspontaneouscancerdeaths,willbefutileexercises.Thepast20yearshasproved that suchefforts areworthless.Makingsuchcalculationskeepsalotofpeoplebusyandwell,buthasnorelationship torealityandhonesty.TheForum’selucubrations,however,paleincomparisonwithre-cent estimates by other bodies such as Greenpeace (Green-peace2006,Vidal2006),predictingtheincidenceofmillionsofChernobylcancersandhundredsofthousandsofdeaths.

Remove the Chernobyl Restrictions!It isreassuring,however,that16yearsaftertheChernobyl

catastrophe,anothergroup,composedoffourU.N.organiza-tions—theUnitedNationsDevelopmentProgramme(UNDP),theWorldHealthOrganization(WHO),theU.N.InternationalChildren’sEmergencyFund(UNICEF)andtheU.N.OfficefortheCoordinationofHumanitarianAffaires(UNOCHA)—daredtostateinits2002report,basedonUNSCEARstudies,thatagreatpartofthebillionsofdollarsusedtomitigatetheconse-quencesoftheChernobylaccidentwasspentincorrectly.The

Figure 6SURFACE GROUND MAP OF CESIUM-137 RELEASED IN THE CHERNOBYL ACCIDENT

Source: Adapted from UNSCEAR 2000

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dollarsspentintheseeffortsdidnotimprove,butactu-allyworsened,adeterioratingsituationfor7millionso-called“victimsofChernobyl”andsolidifiedthepsycho-logicaleffectsofthecatastropheandthewrongdecisionsoftheauthorities.

Thereport(UNDP2002)recommendedthatthethreepost-Sovietcountriesandtheinternationalorganizationsabandonthecurrentpolicy.Themisguidedbasisofthispolicy,i.e.expectationofmassradiationhealtheffects,wasresponsiblefortheenormousanduselesslyexpend-edresourcessacrificedforremediationefforts. Instead,the report presented 35 practical recommendationsneeded to stop thevicious cycleofChernobyl frustra-tions, social degradation, pauperization, and the epi-demic of psychosomatic disorders. The recommenda-tions suggest a reversal of the policy of concentratingattentiononnonexistentradiationhazards,andproposethat relocated individualsbeallowedtoreturn to theiroldsettlements.Thatis,thatessentiallyalloftherestric-tionsshouldberemoved.1*

Buthereweenterapoliticalmine-field.Howwellwillpeople accept losing the mass benefits (equivalent toabout$40amonth)thattheypoeticallycalla“coffinbo-nus”? How can it be explained tothemthattheyweremadetobelievethattheywerethe“victims”ofanon-existenthazard;thatthemassevacua-tionswereanirresponsibleerror;thatfor20years,peoplewereunnecessar-ilyexposedtosufferingandneed;thatvastareasoflandwereunnecessarilybarredfromuse;andthattheircoun-tries’ resources were incrediblysquandered?

Onecanreadinmanypublicationsthat the Chernobyl catastrophe hadseriouspoliticalimplicationsandwasanimportantfactorinthedismantlingoftheSovietUnionandinattemptstocontrolnucleararms.AsMikhailGor-bachevstated:

ThenuclearmeltdownatCher-nobyl20yearsagoevenmorethanmylaunchofprerestroika,wasperhapstherealcauseofthecollapseoftheSovietUnionfiveyearslater.Chernobylopenedmyeyeslikenothingelse:itshowedthehorribleconsequencesofnuclearpower.Onecould

* On July 23, 2010, Belarus, Russian, and Polish news agencies, including some radio stations and TV channels, announced that this last recommendation was fulfilled by the Belarus government, which decided to repopulate 2,000 vil-lages in the “contaminated areas.” Assuming 100 residents for one village, this would amount to about 200,000 people. It seems that preparations for this move started in about 2004, and already several thousands have come back to their old settlements. The Belarus government deserves commendation for its cour-age to stand up to the Chernobyl hysteria, which for years has been cultivated by Greenpeace and other Greens. Its decision brings us back to normalcy. See “Belarus Repopulating Exclusion Zone,” this issue.

nowimaginemuchmoreclearlywhatmighthappenifanuclearbombexploded—oneSS-18rocketcouldcontainahundredChernobyls.Unfortunately,theproblemofnucleararmsisstillveryserioustoday(Gorbachev2006).

WouldfulfillingtherecommendationsoftheUnitedNationsDevelopmentProgramme(UNDP)2000reportagainresultinapoliticalcatharsisandperhapsinduceviolentreactions?Prob-ablynot inRussia,whereamorerationalapproachtoCher-nobylprevails.ButthepoliticalclassesofBelarusandUkraine

Petr Pavlicek/IAEA

AfarmerinJelno,July2005.Jelnoisavillage300kmfromChernobyl,whichwasaffectedbycontaminationfromtheaccidentbecauseofweatherconditions.Nowthepopulationhasgonebacktotheland.“Socialupheaval,however,” theIAEAnoted,“has left farmerswithonlyprimitivetoolsofthetrade.”

Petr Pavlicek/IAEA

“Jelnoisatownwheretimehasstoodstill,”theIAEAnoted,unlikethenewsettlementofSlavutich.

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haveforyearsdemonstratedamuchmoreemotionalapproach.WhentheUNSCEAR2000areport,documentingthelowinci-denceofserioushealthhazardsresultingfromtheChernobylaccident,waspresentedtotheU.N.GeneralAssembly,theBe-larus and Ukraine delegations lodged a fulminating protest.ThissetthestagefortheChernobylForumin2002,andhelpedtofocusitsagenda.

Today,theChernobylrumbleandemotionsarebeginningtosettledown.Inthecenturiestocome,thecatastrophewillberememberedasaproofthatnuclearpowerisasafemeansofenergyproduction.ItevenmightchangethethinkingoftheIn-ternationalCommissiononRadiologicalProtection.

Zbigniew Jaworowski is a multidisciplinary scientist who has published more than 300 scientific papers, four books, and scores of popular science articles, including many in 21stCen-tury. He has been a member of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) since 1973, and served as its chairman from 1980-1982.

This article is adapted from the author’s “Chernobyl Disaster and LNT,” in Dose-Response, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2010.

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