Bouville, A., Chumak, V. V., Inskip, P. D., Kryuchkov, V. and Luckyanov, N. The Chornobyl Accident: Estimation of Radiation Doses Received by the Baltic and Ukrainian Cleanup Workers. Radiat. Res. 166, 158–167 (2006).
During the first day after the explosion, the Chornobyl accident of April 26, 1986 exposed a few hundred emergency workers to high dose levels ranging up to 16 Gy, resulting in acute radiation syndrome. Subsequently, several hundred thousand cleanup workers were sent to the Chornobyl power plant to mitigate the consequences of the accident. Depending on the nature of the work to be carried out, the cleanup workers were sent for periods ranging from several minutes to several months. The average dose from external radiation exposure that was received by the cleanup workers was about 170 mGy in 1986 and decreased from year to year. The radiation exposure was mainly due to external irradiation from γ-ray-emitting radionuclides and was relatively homogeneous over all organs and tissues of the body. To assess the possible health consequences of external irradiation at relatively low dose rates, the U.S. National Cancer Institute is involved in two studies of Chornobyl cleanup workers: (1) a study of cancer incidence and thyroid disease among Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian workers, and (2) a study of leukemia and other related blood diseases among Ukrainian workers. After an overview of the sources of exposure and of the radiation doses received by the cleanup workers, a description of the efforts made to estimate individual doses in the Baltic and Ukrainian studies is presented.