Kellerer, Albrecht M.
The New Panorama of Radioepidemiology - Problems and Possibilities that Emerge in a Changed Europe.
In: Radiation Protection Dosimetry, Vol. 52, No. 1: pp. 3-7
The political change in the former Soviet Union and its sphere of influence has brought into the open information on various situations involving the radiation exposure of large populations, and has thus widened the field of radioepidemiological investigations that need to be performed. Three issues are considered. The consequences of the Chernobyl accident are still largely unresolved, and the hopes for radioepidemiological investigations have been gravely disappointed due to the lack of coordinated efforts. The steep increase of childhood thyroid carcinoma rates in Belarus is the only observed late effect so far; but even in the face of this alarming situation there is little readiness to accept help with regards to medical treatment and to scientific investigations. The attempts to block all information after the reactor accident in the former Soviet Union must be seen against the background of earlier occurrences that were successfully hidden for decades, and a particularly grave issue was the large scale contaminations in the Southern Urals of the River Techna and adjacent villages. An epidemiological study on the affected population has led to first results; it may develop into a major body of knowledge on radiation risks from protracted exposures. A third broad task in the years to come will be the analysis of the health effects in the underground miners of the Wismut AG, the former Soviet-German uranium mining enterprise. Exposure data and health information on several 100,000 miners will need to be analysed, and this may further the knowledge of the effects of radon exposures.