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The impossible health record of Chernobyl is clarified a bit

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On April 26, 1986, at 1:23 a.m., an explosion sounded in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Reactor n ° 4 has just exploded. In question: a hazardous technical test, in this installation whose design dates from the 1960s – and whose faults will be identified later. The accident resulted in the sudden release into the atmosphere of radioactive products contained in the core of the nuclear reactor. The broadcasts will continue until May 5, and the radioactive cloud will fly over much of Europe. To date, this disaster remains the most serious ever to occur in a civilian nuclear installation.

But what exactly do we know about its health impact? After controversy. “It is impossible to draw up an exhaustive health assessment” of Chernobyl, noted the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) in 2016. Two studies, published on April 23 in the journal Science, shed new light – without closing the debate. They were coordinated by Stephen Chanock, of the American National Cancer Institute, with Ukrainian teams in particular. “Researchers of complete confidence”, comments Dominique Laurier, epidemiologist at IRSN.

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