Ionizing radiation

Health effects of the Chernobyl accident

On 26 April 2011, it will be exactly 25 years since the Chernobyl accident. It was a disaster that affected not just Ukraine, Belarus and Russia but the whole world, changing attitudes to nuclear safety on a global scale.

International radiation standards, strategies for improving the nuclear safety, emergency response procedures and mitigation of consequences were revised after the incident. Our understanding of the health effects of ionizing radiation is improving due to continuous research and the knowledge gained from studies carried out on Chernobyl populations.

UN Action Plan on Chernobyl

WHO's current activities are linked to the UN Action Plan on Chernobyl. This defines the strategy of the United Nations agencies in their efforts, in close cooperation with the three most-affected countries, to overcome the negative legacy of the Chernobyl accident in the third decade of joint recovery efforts.

International Chernobyl Research and Information Network (ICRIN) project

WHO is currently working to translate the latest scientific information on the consequences of the accident into sound practical advice for residents of the affected territories. This work is part of the International Chernobyl Research and Information Network (ICRIN) project; a joint effort by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the WHO.

Past WHO activities

As part of the UN Chernobyl Forum, WHO conducted a series of expert meetings from 2003 to 2005. The experts reviewed scientific evidence on health effects associated with the accident and produced health care recommendations for national authorities.

Partners projects