Chernobyl Health Effects Studies
The Chernobyl Health Effects Studies were originally established
on April 26, 1988 through a bilateral agreement between the
United States and the former Soviet Union to study the health
consequences of the Chernobyl accident, which occurred on April
26, 1986. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United
States signed separate agreements with Belarus and Ukraine to
continue these projects.
The explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern
Ukraine is considered to be the worst nuclear accident in
that 50 tons of radioactive dust were dispersed over 140,000
square miles of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, and 4.9 million
people were estimated to have been exposed to radiation. In
addition to the general population, 600,000 to 800,000 Ukrainian
clean-up workers, referred to as "liquidators",
were exposed. These workers took part in abating the radioactive
contamination at the site.
Currently, DOE is co-funding several studies jointly with
the National Cancer Institute (NCI). All studies are conducted
by scientists at NCI and Columbia University, jointly with
investigators from Ukraine and Belarus:
Study of Thyroid Cancer and other Thyroid Diseases:
The primary objective of this collaborative research is to
determine the relationship between 131I exposure from the
Chernobyl accident and risk of thyroid cancer. The effect
of dose level, age at the time of exposure and gender are
of particular interest. Associations between 131I and benign
thyroid nodules and other thyroid diseases will also be evaluated.
The effect of 131I in inducing thyroid cancer will be compared
with published data on clinical therapeutic exposure to x-ray
and gamma irradiation to assess their relative potency. Study
participants include 12,000 Belarusian and 12,000 Ukrainians
who were under the age of 18 years at the time of the Chernobyl
accident. All study participants had their thyroid glands
measured for radioactivity following the accident.
This study has two arms:
- Belarus Thyroid Study, the Belarus arm, and
- Ukraine Thyroid Study, the Ukrainian arm.
Ukraine In-Utero Thyroid Study: a sub-study in Ukrainian
children who were exposed in-utero at the time of the Chernobyl accident.
Study of Leukemia and Other Hematological Diseases Among
Liquidators in Ukraine: This a case-control study of Leukemia
and other related disorders in Ukrainian clean-up workers.
Subjects are approximately 110,000 liquidators in the Ukrainian
State Chernobyl Registry who first worked in the 30 km Chernobyl
exclusion zone between April 26, 1986 and December 31, 1991,
and who were resident at the time of registration in Kiev
or one of five Ukrainian Oblasts. For each case five controls
from the same group of liquidators matched for age and area
of residence are drawn.
Program Manager: Gerald Petersen