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Health Phys. 1996 Jul;71(1):4-8.

The Chernobyl accident and the resultant long-term relocation of people.

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Laboratory of Theoretical Radiobiology, Institute of Biophysics, Russian Ministry of Public Health, Russia.


Following the Chernobyl accident, large areas of the former USSR with populations in the millions were polluted, to varying extent, with long-lived radionuclides. Within the framework of the USSR state legislation still in force in the newly-formed independent states of Belorussia, Russia, and Ukraine, relocation of nearly one million people from these areas was prescribed to avoid exposure to low levels of irradiation; this measure was obviously groundless, both medically and socially. Additionally, four million people from the three affected states were needlessly included in post-Chernobyl legislation; their exposure did not exceed the natural background levels characteristic of many inhabited regions around the world. Finally, these millions of people were falsely identified as the major victims of the accident. This evoked worldwide concern and played an important role in limiting the development of nuclear power production in a number of countries. This article focuses on the social aspects of the Chernobyl aftermath that ordinarily escape scientific attention. In particular, it considers the public health-related realities of "pre-Chernobyl" and "post-Chernobyl, Soviet society, both political and psychological, that not only blocked implementation of proper radiation protection measures, but also put inappropriate measures into action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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