clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


American and Israeli doctors have joined forces to announce a collaborative effort to track and treat illnesses linked to the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Millions of people were exposed to varying levels of radiation after the April 26, 1986, disaster at Chernobyl, a Soviet nuclear plant about 80 miles north of Kiev. Soviet officials said a series of blunders, including the shutting down of emergency cooling systems, caused the radiation leakage.Because some 400,000 people already have emigrated from the region around Chernobyl to Israel since the accident and another 600,000 are expected in the near future, the doctors said this provides a unique opportunity to study the accident's consequences.

Dr. Samuel Penchas, director-general of the Hadassah Medical Organization of Jerusalem, said Monday his group already examined 500 children in the study population.

"Easily 50 percent had some complaint . . . that could perhaps be linked to Chernobyl," he said. The most common complaint was dryness in the eyes, which could come from a gland problem or an immune system disorder, he said.

Penchas and Dr. Sheldon Ru-benfeld, chairman of the Texas Hadassah Medial Research Foundation, said they would use Israeli immigration records to identify potential Chernobyl victims, study any possible illnesses and help provide treatment.

Radiation exposure can cause leukemia and other forms of cancer, thyroid problems and other long-term illnesses, the researchers said.

"Israel is small country and very compact and computerized. The ministry of interior tracks all the immigrants, so it is easy to follow these people and collect data," Penchas said.

Rubenfeld said $1 million a year will be devoted to the Chernobyl proj-ect.