Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

: 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 753--754

After three decades of the chernobyl nuclear disaster: Where we are? What we have to focus upon?

Saurabh R Shrivastava, Prateek S Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. After three decades of the chernobyl nuclear disaster: Where we are? What we have to focus upon?.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:753-754

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. After three decades of the chernobyl nuclear disaster: Where we are? What we have to focus upon?. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Aug 21 ];10:753-754
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster was one of the only two nuclear civil disasters rated as level 7 events on the International Nuclear Event Scale that accounted for immense financial loss and fatalities.[1] In fact, in an attempt to contain the spread of radioactive substance, almost 0.53 million workers were exposed to harmful levels of radiation and the financial burden was around $18 billion.[1] The nuclear fallout led to emission of large quantities of radioactive iodine and cesium, which were deposited near to the site as well as other neighboring nations through wind currents.[1],[2]

It has been 30 years since then, and it was realized that whatever estimates of malignancies or death rates were initially predicted, the actual impact was much less severe.[2] Nevertheless, a definite rise in the incidence of radiation sickness, thyroid malignancy (in excess of 11 000 cases have been reported), radiation-induced cataract, cardiovascular diseases, psychosocial consequences like anxiety, and issues pertaining to decreased fertility and birth defects have been reported among the followed-up cohort of survivors. However, to be conclusive, well-designed and long-term cohort studies are needed.[1],[2]

As the effects of radiation exposure can manifest for decades together, a specific action plan has been proposed to ensure a persistent growth of the affected regions.[3] The ultimate aim is to negate the psychological stigma in the society, encourage self-reliance, and empower local communities to adopt healthy lifestyle practices.[3]

There is an extensive need to ensure food safety and monitor radioactivity (in food and drinking water) by adhering to the recommended standards, collaborate with international agencies to gain guidance or share important information on food safety, and set norms/safety limits for radiation exposures.[2,3] In addition, there is a great need to conduct radio-ecological studies to assist in remediation and even enable future predictions in postdisaster situations or assess the impact of radiation on plants and animals.[2],[3],[4]

In addition, interventions like informing local people about the risks of radiation exposure or preventive measures or risks of other noncommunicable diseases, offering psychological support to the survivors through different stakeholders (like health care workers, teachers, community leaders, etc.), and implementing long-term health surveillance programs will also prove to be of great assistance.[1],[2],[3],[4] Further, all the member states of the United Nation have adopted a Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 with an aim to minimize disaster-associated losses in terms of morbidity, quality of life, and mortality.[5] It will cover the fields of prevention, preparedness, recovery, and rehabilitation through involvement of all concerned partners.[5]

To conclude, even though three decades have passed since the worst nuclear civil disaster, which rocked the world, still we lack major epidemiological studies to assess its precise impact on health. Thus, it is high time that international stakeholders should continue their efforts to ascertain any health risk associated with the nuclear disaster in the future. Further, it will always remain a lesson for all the other nations to be careful and adhere to the standard safety protocols to avert any form of nuclear disaster in the coming decades, as it endangers the lives of millions of people across different generations.


S.R.S. contributed to the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, and approving the final version of the manuscript. P.S.S. contributed to the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, and approving the final version of the manuscript. J.R. contributed to revising the draft and approving the final version of the manuscript.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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2Beresford NA, Fesenko S, Konoplev A, Skuterud L, Smith JT, Voigt G, Thirty years after the Chernobyl accident: what lessons have we learnt?. J Environ Radioact 2016; 157: 77- 89.
3World Health Organization UN Action Plan on Chernobyl to 2016. Geneva: WHO Press; 1- 4.
4McCall C, Chernobyl disaster 30 years on: lessons not learned. Lancet 2016; 387: 1707- 8.
5Aitsi-Selmi A, Murray V, The Chernobyl disaster and beyond: implications of the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction 2015-2030. PLoS Med 2016; 13: e1002017.