[ RadSafe ] Psychological Impacts of Chernobyl

Leo M. Lowe llowe at senes.ca
Fri Apr 29 13:42:36 CDT 2011


I believe that you may have misinterpreted my message.  [I get 
Radsafe messages in "Digest" form, so please excuse my delay in responding.]

I did not intend to claim that Chernobyl emissions physically caused 
additional abortions (as Dr. Busby may have done).   As you correctly 
indicate, the doses were far too low for that to occur.  What I meant 
to say was that extra abortions were induced in women out of their 
misplaced fear of the perceived impacts of Chernobyl emissions.

I was attempting to respond to the question of how one might 
"measure" the psychological effects of Chernobyl, and how fear 
mongering about radiation risks could result in real impacts 
(i.e.  more induced abortions).  As a number of others have 
commented, measuring psychological impacts is very difficult (if even 
possible) to do.

I will send you in a separate message the publications on abortions 
in Greece and Denmark that I cited in my message.

Leo Lowe
Message: 6
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 20:39:05 +0200
From: Franz Sch?nhofer <franz.schoenhofer at chello.at>
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Psychological Impacts of Chernobyl
To: "'The International Radiation Protection \(Health Physics\)
         MailingList'"   <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>,
         <radsafe at agni.phys.iit.edu>
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Leo and RADSAFErs,

I do not have access to the literature you gave, but I heavily doubt your
statement, that "the number of excess induced abortions in Europe due to
this fear has been estimated in the tens of thousands, and even higher".

Some people, one of the most noisy is Chris Busby, have claimed very high
numbers of abortions. Recently there was one of his unbelievable claims even
on RADSAFE, where he cites "Countries having been most affected by the
Chernobyl contamination". I missed Austria among them, which was one of the
by far most affected countries, not because of direct precipitation
contamination, but because of contamination of food. Well, this is Chris
Busby at his best. Why does he still get space on RADSAFE?

In the course of my work for the official first report on the consequences
of Chernobyl on Austria I tried to find some data about abortions. I could
not get any, neither through official nor unofficial channels, simply
because there were none about additional abortions.

Since the cited papers are not available to me, I do not want to question
the data, but I clearly can state the following:

Greece was very little affected by the Chernobyl contamination, local small
enhancements of background radiation were found as everywhere in Europe, but
there was nothing of concern.

Regarding Denmark I am much more suspicious. Like other parts of Europe
(Netherlands, Hungary, and many parts of other countries) Denmark was not
the slightest bit affected by the Chernobyl accident (they might have found
some traces). Therefore the abortions were not at all justified because of
radiation fear. It might have been used to justify officially and mentally
the abortion. It might have been used as an auxilliary argument. I was
rather shortly after the accident at a conference in Lund, Sweden, which had
to be turned halfways into a "Chernobyl conference", because so many
scientists involved in this accident were present, but I could not feel any
real concern either in Danish, Swedish or any other participants.

If the data were correct, then the question is still unanswered, why women
chose abortion, though there was no reason to suspect damage to fetusses.

How easy would be this world for scientists without journalists trying to
distribute the most horrifying stories to enhance their impact factor!

Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
MinRat i.R.
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Wien/Vienna

-----Urspr?ngliche Nachricht-----
Von: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] Im Auftrag von Leo M. Lowe
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 27. April 2011 20:34
An: radsafe at agni.phys.iit.edu
Betreff: [ RadSafe ] Psychological Impacts of Chernobyl

Hello Rich,

Relative to your question copied below, one measure of the real
impacts of the fear and stress caused by Chernobyl is the number of
induced abortions brought about by perceived potential birth
defects.  The number of excess induced abortions in Europe due to
this fear has been estimated in the tens of thousands, and even
higher.  For example, see:

1.  Trichopoulos et al "The victims of Chernobyl in Greece: induced
abortions after the accident" Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295;1100.

   2. LB Knudsen "Legally-induced abortions in Denmark after
Chernobyl" - Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy (1991) 45:229-231.

These were real lives lost, just out of fear of what could happen
from "radiation".  Better information given to those exposed
post-Chernobyl about the real risks of radiation could have saved
many of these lives.

L. Lowe

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