The Explosion Lives On

April 26, 1986 is a date that will forever be known in history as the date of the world’s worst nuclear accident; the Chernobyl explosion. On this date, one of the main reactors in Chernobyl’s power station, located in Ukraine, exploded (pictured above), releasing radioactive material into the air not only in Ukraine, but even as far as Sweden. As a result of this massive amount of radiation in the air, at least 100,000 people died due to health complications associated with the radiation; adding to the thirty-eight people who were killed instantaneously when the reactor exploded.

In this article shown in The Current Digest of the Russian Press, the Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Medicine reflected on the health effects that were being seen even one year after the accident. In this he is asked about the people who were subject to large amounts of radiation during the accident. With this he states,

            “Two people perished during the accident itself…28 people with extensive radiation burns could not be saved…13 people have received disability classifications of varying degrees and will have to undergo repeated plastic surgery because of radiation burns to the skin.”

L.A. Ilyin, Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Medicine

According to the World Health Organization, there are many negative side effects related to health and a persons proximity to the explosion. One of the first is the increase in thyroid cancer that has been found in many people who were children at the time of the explosion, living close to Chernobyl. In their study they reported “in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine nearly 5,000 cases of thyroid cancer have now been diagnosed to date among children who were aged up to 18 years at the time of the accident.” The chart below shows just how greatly the younger generation, at the time of the incident, is being effected now.

thyroid cancer

Additionally, the report also makes note of the fact that “the production of cataracts is directly related to the dose [of radiation].” Both of these increases are accompanied by the findings of an increased risk for things such as cardiovascular disease, a variety of different non-thyroid cancers and negative psychological effects (for those who were associated with the incident). Thus, as we can see, while the immediate aftershock of the Chernobyl explosion was great, the long term health effects are equally as significant.

Works Cited

BBC News, “The Chernobyl Disaster,” BBC News,

“Chernobyl Blast Zone,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU, 1986),

Lewis Siegalbaum, “Meltdown in Chernobyl,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU, 1985),

V. Romanenko, “Chernobyl One Year Later,” The Current Digest of the Russian Press, (The Current Digest of the Russian Press No. 17, Vol. 39, 1987),

World Health Organization, “Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident: An Overview,” World Health Organization, (WHO, 2006),


8 thoughts on “The Explosion Lives On

  1. The information about how the youth from this explosion have now been effective is extremely interesting. I wonder if there was any treatment for the people living near by at the time, that weren’t extremely effected by the explosion, if not maybe that would have helped the vast amount of cancer now effecting these people. I also wonder if there is a similar correlation to the youth effected by the nuclear bombs in Japan from WWII. I’m excited to continue the documentary film we started in class on this specific topic to learn more. Great post!


  2. Bouncing off the pervious comment, I too found the information about the generational effects very interesting. You did a great job of using your sources to help the reader gain a better understanding of the subject matter. Nice job.


  3. Casey, I enjoyed reading your post. It was cool to see the breakdown of some of the negative health affects of the explosion. Your links also give a lot more detail to learn about, thanks for adding those. Cool post.


  4. Hi Casey!

    This was a great post! I really appreciate the fact that you took time to discuss the effects that the radiation of Chernobyl caused. I really liked the diagram regarding how radiation traveled into humans! I found if specifically interesting that medical issues such as cataracts can be linked to radiation.


  5. Tough subject matter. Your graphics and general breakdown of the information as Ben said helped make the entire topic easy to grasp. Long term effects are a lot greater than we might think with all the health related deaths…think 9/11 where even today, first responders are still passing away from exposure to toxic gasses and chemicals.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Chernobyl nuclear explosion further intensified the debate on nuclear energy and nuclear arms, but I appreciate your attention to the health effects and the legacy of radiation in the region. Nice post!


  7. The Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion is just so eerie to me! I didn’t know that cataracts were also a side effect of radiation exposure after the accident. Your attention to the effects to the local population’s health after the accident was very well done. Both the flow chart and line graph are great representations of your research, and they were easy to read with the context you provided. I wonder if there were any other effects to the population not yet discovered, since things tended to be underreported/covered up in the USSR at that time. Was there any other nuclear power reactor accidents in the USSR in the 1980s that are comparable to Chernobyl?


  8. I never knew just how devastating the effects were on some people. You always hear about Chernobyl and the reactor explosion, but not much about the people affected. Great post, especially after watching Babushkas of Chernobyl


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