Chernobyl and public health: The nuclear industry should fund an international foundation to learn from Chernobyl

Keith Baverstock, Radiation scientist BMJ. Mar 28, 1998; 316(7136): 952–953.

In 1992, when the first effects of the Chernobyl accident on the prevalence of thyroid cancer in children were reported,1 they were met with scepticism by the radiological community.2,3 Some of this scepticism was undoubtedly scientific (“iodine-131 has a low carcinogenic potential”), though some was not. These reservations have now mostly been resolved by re-examination of the data on the relation of exposure to x rays and thyroid cancer and a realisation of just how many children were exposed. It is a cautionary tale of how scientific instinct can mislead: help could have been provided more quickly had it not been for this debate. Nevertheless, similar debates are now obscuring our ability to learn longer term lessons from Chernobyl and provide further help to its victims.