Publication Laka-library:
TORCH-2016. An independent scientific evaluation of the health-related effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

DateMarch 2016

From the publication:

An independent scientific evaluation of the health-related effects of
the Chernobyl nuclear disaster
Ian Fairlie, PhD, UK
Version 1.1 March 31, 2016

Thirty years ago, on April 26 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred at 
the Chernobyl1 nuclear power plant (NPP) in Ukraine. The explosions and resulting 
graphite fire at Reactor 4 over the following ten days ejected 30 % to 60 % of the 
reactor core’s contents (60 – 120 tonnes) into the troposphere initially over the 
USSR and most of Europe2. As most also reached the stratosphere, most of the 
northern hemisphere was eventually affected by radioactive fallout3. Approximately 
50 people died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, however many thousands 
of cancer fatalities and other probabilistic effects are estimated to arise over 
many decades. For example, Imaizumi et al (2006) found that a significant dose-
response relationship still existed among the Japanese bomb survivors nearly 60 
years after they were exposed.

Initially, about 116,000 people were evacuated from the town of Pripyat and areas 
surrounding the reactor and relocated. After 1986, an additional 230,000 people 
from contaminated areas in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine were 
resettled (UNSCEAR, 2008). About 4,000,000 km2 of Europe was contaminated by 
Chernobyl’s fallout – 42 % of Europe’s land area. The most contaminated countries 
were the former USSR republics of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. In addition, 
Finland, Sweden, Norway, Austria and the Balkan and Slavic countries were also 
affected by high levels4 of radioactive contamination.

The first TORCH Report ( was published in 2006 to mark 
the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The Report concentrated on 
estimating the released amounts of radioactivity, the radiation doses and likely 
numbers of resulting cancer deaths which would arise in future years. 
Many major reports on Chernobyl’s effects were published in late 2005 and 2006 
on the 20th anniversary of the disaster: these are listed in Annex D. Thousands 
more scientific articles have been published between 2006 and 2016. PubMed alone 
cites over 400 scientific articles on 'Chernobyl cancer' published during the 
past 10 years, plus 270 more on 'Chernobyl thyroid cancer', and 20 on 'Chernobyl 
cardiovascular'. Hundreds more articles are cited in Medline, Science Direct, 
British Library and Science Citation search engines. 

This report, TORCH-2016, updates the 2006 TORCH report with the new health 
evidence which has emerged in the past ten years. It is important to note that 
the accident had many adverse consequences, including economic, ecological, 
social and political effects as well as health effects. This report focuses 
on health effects. Before we commence, some preliminary matters need to be