the effects of radiation
About 30 victims died in the first four months, mainly due to the high doses received, which were responsible for the development of an acute radiation syndrome.
Subsequently, about twenty other people died from the after-effects of their high exposure or from pathologies not directly related to exposure to ionizing radiation (including pulmonary tuberculosis, cirrhosis of the liver or cardiac arrest).
The most serious health consequences were observed among the operators and firefighters who intervened on the night of the tragedy, as well as among the people involved in the first days, such as helicopter pilots, and the liquidators in charge of cleaning up the site and the heavily contaminated surroundings.
Based on the estimated doses, an excess risk of leukemia was expected among the liquidators in the first 5 to 15 years after the accident. Although recent reports suggest an increase in the incidence of leukaemia among liquidators in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and the Baltic countries, the studies undertaken so far cannot be formally concluded due to their low statistical power, uncertainties about the doses of radioactivity received and the existence of co-factors.