Clinical aspects of the health disturbances in chernobyl nuclear power plant accident clean-up workers (liquidators) from Latvia

M. E. Eglite, T. J. Zvagule, K. D. Rainsford, J. D. Reste, E. V. Čurbakova, N. N. Kurjane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The health status of some 6,000 workers from Latvia who went to clean-up the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP) site following the explosion on 26 April 1986 has been analyzed. The data on these workers have been recorded in the Latvian State Register of Occupational disease patients and people exposed to ionizing radiation due to Chernobyl NPP accident (Latvian State Register) that was established in 1994. From these data, estimates have been made of external ionizing radiation to which these workers were exposed together with observations on the impact of exposure to heavy metals (especially lead and zinc) and radioactive isotopes released during the reactor 'meltdown'. These factors along with psycho-emotional and social-economic stresses account for a marked excess of mortality and morbidity in the group of CNPP accident clean-up workers compared with that of the non-exposed normal Latvian population adjusted for age and sex. The number of diseases or conditions in the CNPP accident clean-up workers has progressively risen from an average of 1.3 in 1986 to 10.9 in 2007. This exceeds for the Latvian population when adjusted for age and sex. The most serious conditions affect the nervous, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine (especially thyroid) and immunological systems. While the morbidity associated with diseases of the respiratory and digestive systems has decreased in recent years that in the other systems is increasing. In recent years, there has been an increased occurrence of cancers affecting the thyroid, prostate and stomach. Clinical and laboratory investigations suggest that surviving CNPP accident clean-up workers exhibit signs of immuno-inflammatory reactions causing premature aging with evidence of autoimmune diseases and immunological deficiencies or abnormalities. It is suggested that the CNPP accident clean-up workers may have a specific syndrome, the 'Chernobyl post-radiation neurosomatic polypathy', due to sustained oxidant stress injury, as a result of exposure to radiation and lead.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • Chernobyl clean-up workers
  • Health disturbances
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine
  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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