How Radiation Affected the 'Liquidators' of the Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown


Staff member
Jan 8, 2011
Read more: How Did Radiation Affect the 'Liquidators' of the Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown?

The 1986 nuclear power plant explosion in Chernobyl hurled huge amounts of radioactive material into the air. In the minutes to years that followed, around 530,000 recovery operation workers, such as firefighters, called "liquidators," went in to put out the fires and clean up the toxic mess.

At Chernobyl, 134 liquidators quickly developed radiation sickness, and 28 of them died from it. These people were exposed to radiation levels as high as 8,000 to 16,000 mSv, or the equivalent of 80,000 to 160,000 chest X-rays, according to the World Health Organization.
Within a couple of hours of the exposure, people with radiation sickness develop symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. When cells cannot properly divide, the mucosa or tissue lining of the GI tract also break downs, releasing cells and the bacteria that live in the gut (including in the stool) into the bloodstream.

This would make even a healthy person sick. But because the radiation is also stopping the bone marrow from producing infection-fighting white blood cells, the body can't fight those infections.

High levels of radiation can also cause burns and blisters on the skin, which show up minutes to a few hours after the exposure and look just like a sunburn.

While the GI-tract symptoms and burns happen almost immediately to a couple of hours after exposure to the radiation, the bone marrow survives for a couple of days. This means there is a latency period, when the person might even seem to improve, before showing symptoms of sepsis.

The people who survived radiation sickness from Chernobyl took years to recover, and many of them developed cataracts because the radiation damaged the eye lenses, according to the World Health Organization.

Credibility: Live Science - Media Bias/Fact Check

Local Host

Level 24
Sep 26, 2017
In Japan it is also an ongoing problem. Many workers are working in a radioactively contaminated environment to process nuclear power plants.
Japan only has 5 Nuclear Plants Operational (of 22, being most of them decommissioned) , not to mention only 1 of those 5 is being fully used.

I also find it BIAS to look down on Japan for using Nuclear Power, when more than half of the World does the same (some countries are even expanding their plants: USA, France, Russia, Brazil, etc).