[ RadSafe ] "Chornobyl 30 years later: Radiation, pregnancies, and developmental anomalies in Rivne, Ukraine"

Jaro Franta jaro_10kbq at videotron.ca
Sat Apr 28 16:28:04 CDT 2018

My comments on a 2016 report about Chernobyl (text only below).
For those who are members of the Rad Toolbox group, it's posted here:

A link to the original article (pdf) near bottom below.

Comments welcome.

Jaro Franta
Montreal, Canada

A 2016 report out of Ukraine (with participation of one American,
pediatrician Christina D. Chambers, from La Jolla, CA) tries to draw a
correlation between incidence of birth defects and radiation.
It compares several regions of northern Ukraine, which received different
amounts of Cs137 fallout from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Besides the different amounts of fallout and population body burdens (as
measured using whole body counters, WBC), the regions have very different
surface geology, and consequently different agricultural and dietary habits.

While providing good data on Cs137 body burdens, the authors never bother to
do any dose calculations.
In fact, the only time the word "dose" is mentioned, is in this quote:
" The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) implicitly endorsed by the
World Health Organization (WHO) declared that "Because of the relatively low
dose levels to which the populations of the Chernobyl affected regions were
exposed, there is no evidence or any likelihood of observing decreased
fertility among males or females in the general population as a direct
result of radiation exposure. These doses are also unlikely to have any
major effect on the number of stillbirths, adverse pregnancy outcomes or
delivery complications or the overall health of children." (IAEA, 2006)."

But it is simple enough to compare the dose due to Cs137 body burden to the
dose from natural potassium-40 (K40).
The reported WBC of about 4,000Bq of Cs137 is nearly identical to the
typical K40 activity in the human body.
The dose from 4kBq of natural K40 is 0.20 mSv/y.
But the dose from 4kBq of Cs137 is just one third of that, 0.064 mSv/y, due
to different mean decay energy (188keV for Cs137 versus 585keV for K40).

Despite the minuscule dose, the authors insist that,
"Concerning the high sensitivity of rapidly developing embryonic tissues to
IR damage, even the 3700 Bq limit is likely to be too high to prevent IR
teratogenic impacts."
" These observations along with previous findings (Wertelecki et al., 2016),
fully justify the imperative that prospective investigations of 137-Cs WBC
temporal trends are needed."

Nevertheless, the significant differences in birth defects incidence is
interesting - the authors' bogus insinuations about radiation exposure
In particular, the low rate of folic acid dietary supplement use by pregnant
women in all the regions of the study, suggest that differences in diet of
the populations in the regions play an important role (again, due to very
different surface geology, and consequently different agricultural and
dietary habits).

This sort of effect has been observed in other countries, including several
areas of the US, where dietary deficiency of folic acid (and formerly
inadequate supplement distribution or inclusion in consumer food products)
have been observed to result in relatively high rates of birth defects.
In fact, one such epidemiological case was found in a population in the
western US - and was blamed by activists on the nearby Hanford nuclear
Of course the correct preventive measure was widespread folic acid
supplementation, not anything to do with radiation.
Similarly, if the authors of the Ukrainian report convince authorities that
it's the Cs137 that's to blame, then we can look forward to more birth
defects due to dietary folic acid deficiency.

It would be really helpful if some people in this group, who are involved
professionally in these sorts of epidemiology issues, would take up
responding to the Ukrainian report in the scientific media.



Chornobyl 30 years later: Radiation, pregnancies, and developmental
anomalies in Rivne, Ukraine

Wladimir Wertelecki a, b, *, Christina D. Chambers b, Lyubov Yevtushok a, c,
Natalya Zymak-Zakutnya a, d, Zoriana Sosyniuk a, c, Serhiy Lapchenko a,
Bogdana Ievtushok a, c, Diana Akhmedzhanova a, d
, Oleksandr Komov e
a Omni-Net for Children International Charitable Fund, Rivne, Ukraine
b Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla,
c Rivne Province Regional Medical Diagnostic Center, Rivne, Ukraine
d Khmelnytsky City Perinatal Center, Khmelnytsky, Ukraine
e Volyn Regional Children's Territoral Medical Center, Lutsk, Volyn, Ukraine


The Yakima case in the western US:


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