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J Radiol Prot. 2012 Mar;32(1):N59-63. doi: 10.1088/0952-4746/32/1/N59. Epub 2012 Mar 6.

The Chernobyl experience in the area of retrospective dosimetry.

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National Research Center for Radiation Medicine NAMS Ukraine 04050, Melnikova 53, Kiev, Ukraine.


The Chernobyl accident, which occurred on 26 April 1986 at a nuclear power plant located less than 150 km north of Kiev, was the largest nuclear accident to date. The unprecedented scale of the accident was determined not only by the amount of released activity, but also by the number of workers and of the general public involved, and therefore exposed to increased doses of ionising radiation. Due to the unexpected and large scale of the accident, dosimetry techniques and practices were far from the optimum; personal dosimetry of cleanup workers (liquidators) was not complete, and there were no direct measurements of the exposures of members of the public. As a result, an acute need for retrospective dose assessment was dictated by radiation protection and research considerations. In response, substantial efforts have been made to reconstruct doses for the main exposed cohorts, using a broad variety of newly developed methods: analytical, biological and physical (electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy of teeth, thermoluminescence of quartz) and modelling. This paper reviews the extensive experience gained by the National Research Center for Radiation Medicine, Academy of Medical Sciences, Ukraine in the field of retrospective dosimetry of large cohorts of exposed population and professionals. These dose reconstruction projects were implemented, in particular, in the framework of epidemiological studies, designed to follow-up the medical consequences of the Chernobyl accident and study health effects of ionizing radiation, particularly Ukrainian-American studies of cataracts and leukaemia among liquidators.

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