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Health effects of Chernobyl

Nobody knows what the true effects of the Chernobyl accident have been and will be in the future. But in the more than 100 years since if was first understood that radiation can damage cells, a huge amount has been learnt about radioactive contamination and radiation risk. We can't hope to even summarise all this here, but if you want to know more, a good place to start is the World Health Organisation Chernobyl report, the Oxford Restatement on radiation and the many reports by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

The existence of a vast scientific literature on radiation hasn't stopped many myths about Chernobyl being perpetuated. We, like many others, think that these myths do real damage to people's lives in the affected areas. Current radiation dose rates to people living around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are very low and are well within the variation in natural radiation dose rates worldwide. The over-estimation of radiation risk, both in the affected countries and abroad, has contributed to the huge economic, social and mental health impact of the accident. Though there were very significant health effects of Chernobyl, particularly the rise in thyroid cancer in those exposed as children to short lived I-131, the 2006 World Health Organisation report concluded that the social and mental health impact was "the largest public health problem created by the accident". 

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