Chernobyl Wiki
Wormwood 15
The cans in the market suddenly stopped having labels. I don't think it was because they ran out of paper.
This page's sources are incomplete, nonexistent or unreliable. You can help the Chernobyl Wiki improve by expanding it.

[RU: лучевая болезнь], [DE: Strahlenkrankheit]

Radiation sickness is an affliction that is caused by a heavy dose of radionuclides to the body.


Depending on the type of radiation sickness, it can be easy or extremely difficult to detect by doctors.


If a person has swallowed ratioacive material or breathed in radioactive particles, it is relatively easy to notice but it is also much more arduous to treat. The person will be in great danger of dying, and this usually occurs if the dosage is around 400 roentgens or 300 RADs (Radiation Acquired Dose). After about two days hair loss, weakness, cramps and vomiting will occur, and from here each case varies depending on the person. One firefighter who initially was sent to the burning reactor recieved 1600 roentgen (four times the normal lethal dose) and his skin degenerated horribly, so much so that a wrinkle in his bedding or a light brush from a doctor's fingernail would make him bleed.

Absorbed Through Skin[]

This is, initially, the most dificult to diagnose, because the beginning symptoms are fatigue and vomiting, which are the symptoms of many other ailments, even simple fatigue. If the person got only a mild dose, these symptoms will disappear afer a few weeks, though it is common that later in life, even within a few years, the person will either die from or be treated for some type of cancer, most commonly lymphoma, leukemia, and thyroid cancer. However if the person was in an area with a heavy concentration of beta radiation it can be determined because a number of burn-like lesions will appear just under the surface of their skin where the beta particles embedded themselves.


Chernobyl 44

If a person enters an irradiated area, there are a few things he can do to prevent radiation absorbtion:

  1. Wear a gas mask. This will keep alpha- and beta-radiation particles from entering his lungs and throat.
  2. Wear a lead-lined suit. Radiation suits are commercially available, and will stop radiation absorbtion in mild- to moderately-contaminated areas.
  3. Consume potassium-iodine. This will protect his thyroid, which is one of the organs most suspect to radiation absorbtion. However, care must be taken when doing this, as too much is toxic. If it comes in liquid form, he should place two drops into an 8-ounce glass, stir, and drink it. If it comes in tablet form, he should dissolve two tablets into an 8-ounce glass and drink.
  4. Wear a dosimeter. Even the simplest of these devices can save his life. The easiest to use is a small yellow object with rounded corners and a screen; once it begins to beep, it is time to leave the area.
  5. Drink vodka. This should be done after venturing into an irradiated area. It will flush his body clean of radionuclides, but should not be drank in excess for obvious reasons and is only effective after the fact.

Birth Defects[]

After Chernobyl, children born to parents who were liquidators, soldiers or evacuees were usually stillborn or born with disturbing and tragic deformities. One common ailment is a disorder termed "Chernobyl AIDS," which means that the affected child has an abnormal or unhealthy immune system. Many children will often have more obvious deformities as well.

Evacuated Children[]

Chernobyl 8

Children with cancer in a Kiev hospital.

After the accident, children who were evacuated from contaminated zones would often develop cancer in some form, most often leukemia or thyroid cancer. Thousands of children died from these or from complications related in the first years after the accident.