Mental health morbidity in the Russian cohort of Chernobyl clean-up workers: preliminary analysis


«Radiation and Risk», 2015, vol. 24, No. 4, pp.7-19


Kashcheev V.V. – Head of Lab., C. Sc., Biol. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia. Contacts: 4 Korolyov str., Obninsk, Kaluga region, Russia, 249036. Tel.: (484) 399-32-81; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Chekin S.Yu. – Head of Lab. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia.
Karpenko S.V. – Engineer. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia.
Shchukina N.V. – Senior Researcher. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia.
Lovachev S.S. – Research Assistant. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia.
Kochergina E.V. – Head of Lab., C. Sc., Med. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia.
Maksioutov M.A. – Head of Lab., C. Sc., Tech. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia.
Ivanov V.K. – Deputy Director, Chairman of RSCRP, Corresponding Member of RAS. A. Tsyb MRRC, Obninsk, Russia.


Results of 27-year follow-up study of mental health morbidity in the Russian cohort of Chernobyl clean-up workers is analyzed in the article. The cohort size was 89,000 clean up workers, males. Average age of the cohort members at exposure was 34 years, mean external dose was 132 mGy. During the follow up period from 1986 over 2012 41,417 cases of mental and behavioral disorders were detected. Mental health disorders coding error was 2%. Duration of the work within 30-km Chernobyl zone from 1986 through 1987 is taken as integral measure of effects of stressors: statistically significant increase in incidence of mental health disorders (p<0.001) was observed among the cohort members stayed within the 30-km zone more than 6 weeks. Risk of mental health disorders in clean-up workers stayed within the Chernobyl zone more than 6 and 12 weeks is higher than in those stayed there less than 6 weeks by 8% and 12% respectively. Regression analysis demonstrated positive statistically significant relationship between mental health disorders morbidity and external dose in terms of excess relative risk: mean value of ERR/Gy=0.19, 95% CI: 0.03-0.36; p=0.023. There is statistically significant inverse relationship between ERR value and duration of stay within the 30-km zone. Presented results of study are preliminary, further epidemiological study will allow researchers to estimate relationship between mental health morbidity and radiation dose.

Key words
radiation, risk, mental disorders, behavioral disorders, morbidity, clean-up workers, Chernobyl accident, relative risk, excess relative risk, stress factor.


1. The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. ICRP Publication 103. Annals of the ICRP, 2007, vol. 37, no. 2-4. Elsevier, 2007. 332 p.

2. Ionizing Radiation: Sources and Biological Effects. UNSCEAR, 1982 Report to the General Assembly, with annexes. UN, New York, 1982.

3. Shimizu Y., Kato H., Shull W.J., Hoel D.J. Studies of the mortality of A-bomb survivors. Report 9. Mortality, 1950-1985: Part 3. Noncancer mortality based on the revised doses (DS86). Radiat. Res., 1992, vol. 130, pp. 249-266.

4. Kodama K., Shimizu Y., Sawada H., Kato H. Incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease in the adult health study sample, 1958-78. TR 22-84. Hiroshima, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, 1984.

5. Preston D.L., Shimizu Y., Pierce D.A., Suyama A., Mabuchi K. Studies of mortality of atomic bomb survi-vors. Report 13: Solid cancer and noncancer disease mortality: 1950-1997. Radiat. Res., 2003, vol. 160, no. 4, pp. 381-407.

6. Ozasa K., Shimizu Y., Suyama A., Kasagi F., Soda M., Grant E.J., Sakata R., Sugiyama H., Kodama K. Studies of the mortality of atomic bomb survivors, Report 14, 1950-2003: an overview of cancer and non-cancer diseases. Radiat. Res., 2012, vol. 177, no. 3, pp. 229-243.

7. Nyagu A.I., Loganovsky K.N., Yuryev K.L. Psychological consequences of nuclear and radiological acci-dents: delayed neuropsychiatric effects of the acute radiation sickness following Chernobyl. In: Follow-up of delayed health consequences of acute accidental radiation exposure. Lessons to be learned from their medical management. IAEA-TECDOC-1300, IAEA, WHO. Vienna, IAEA, 2002, pp. 27-47.

8. Pishel V. The clinic-pathogenetic characteristics of neurosis-like states in the participants in the cleanup of the aftermath of the accident at the Chernobyl Atomic Electric Power Station. Lik. Sprava, 2000, no. 2, pp. 12-15.

9. Perevertova Yu.G., Rumyantseva G.M. Mental health disorders in Chernobyl clean-up workers with cere-brovascular diseases. Russian Journal of Psychiatry, 2004, no. 3, pp. 23-28. (In Russian).

10. Rumyantseva G.M., Chinkina O.V., Shishkov S.N. Some approaches to assessment of injurious effects on mental health of exposure to ionizing radiation. Russian Journal of Psychiatry, 2010, no. 5, pp. 20-28. (In Russian).

11. Breslow N.E., Day N.E. Statistical methods in cancer research. Vol. II. The design and analysis of cohort studies. Scientific Publication No 82. Lyon, IARC, 1987.

12. Preston D.L., Lubin J.H., Pierce D.A., McConney M.E. EPICURE User's Guide. Seattle, Hirosoft Interna-tional Corporation, 1993. 330 р.


Full-text article (in Russian)