The impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 included thyroid cancers in those who were children at the time. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) produced a report in 2008 which found that, among those exposed who had been under 14 years of age in 1986, there were 5,127 reported cases of thyroid cancer between 1991 and 2005, while, for those who had been under the age of 18 in 1986, there were 6,848 cases. The main exposure route is assumed to be from drinking milk contaminated with radioactive fallout. There have been follow up studies and reviews and they have produced some worrying conclusions, outlined in a new UNSCEAR report. It notes that ‘the total number of cases of thyroid cancer registered in the period 1991−2015 in males and females, who were under 18 in 1986 (for the whole of Belarus and Ukraine, and for the four most contaminated oblasts of the Russian Federation), approached 20,000. This number is almost three times higher than the number of thyroid cancer cases registered in the same cohort in the period 1991−2005’.
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