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Radiation Effects of Chernobyl Accident


Clinical and Experimental Estimation using Modern Nanotechnologies of the Effects of the Radionuclides Released in a Result of the Chernobyl Catastrophe

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • MED-DIS/Disease Surveillance/Medicine

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Institute of Radiobiology, Belarus, Minsk

Supporting institutes

  • Research and Clinical Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology, Belarus, Minsk


  • Kyoto University / Research Reactor Institute, Japan, Osaka\nUniversity of Linköping / Faculty of Health Sciences / Department of Health and Environment, Sweden, Linköping

Project summary

The combination of the latest achievements in radiometric and spectrometric monitoring and scanning tunnel microscope (STM) help to determine accurately the influence of Cs-137 and Sr-90 exposure on the population living in territories affected by the Chernobyl NPP accident.

After the Chernobyl accident, 4% and 13% of the total amount of emitted nuclides, which formed in the active zone, consisted of Sr-90 and Cs-137, respectively. The radionuclides were mainly emitted in the aerosol form (about 70% of Cs and about 100% of Sr-90). Such spreading of radionuclides means Sr-90 exists in the soil anywhere Cs-137 has been found.

Determination of the incorporated activity and the level of the contribution of Cs-137 and Sr-90 in the common irradiation of the population of Belarus urgently require radiation monitoring of the population of the Republic and environment, with determination of the character of radionuclide behavior within the system “environment-foodstuffs-man”. The radionuclides are taken in the human organism by alimentary means and accumulate in various organs and tissues depending on the physicochemical peculiarities of the radionuclide and its organotropy. Owing to direct measurement of the concentration of radionuclides in the organism or organ using SHR or STM, an urgent question arises on the analysis of mechanisms of the damaging influence of Cs-137 and Sr-90 on tissue and cellular constructions. The Clinical Research Institute for Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology (CRIRME) is the main establishment of the Ministry of Health, concerned with the medical effects of the Chernobyl catastrophe. The CRIRME has unique experience in analyzing medical effects of the exposure on the population of the country to the results of the Chernobyl accident. The goal of the present investigation is to assess experimentally dose burdens for the population of Belarus, which has exposed in the accident at Chernobyl, and to study irradiation effects from the medico-biological viewpoint.

These goals will be achieved through the solution of the following tasks:

1. Assessment of inpidual and collective doses of irradiation for inhabitants in the Gomel, Brest and Mogilev regions of Belarus.
2. Measurement of radionuclides in humans on the basis of modern nanotechologies and assessment of irradiation dose.
3. Assessment of the state of the health and possibly medical effects among exposed populations in the Gomel, Brest and Mogilev regions of Belarus.
The realization of tasks is planned through the use of modern technologies and methods.
1. The main biological important radionuclides are Cs-137 and Sr-90. The specific activity of Cs-137 is measured by radiometers and a gamma-spectrometers with germanium and scintillation detectors. The content of Cs-137 in the human body is measured with a whole body counter (WBC) or a human exposure spectrometer. On the other hand, the specific activity of Sr-90 in biological substances is measured by a beta-spectrometer with the Sr-90 concentration through charring, ashing or radiometrical extraction (depending on the degree of contamination). The concentration of Sr-90 in the human body is determined by calculation. By way of the obtained experimental and calculation results, the collective dose of the population and the release of the main types of disease can be determined. Methods of taking samples and their preparation for measurements are standard.
2. Observation of normal cells and cells containing radionuclides by an atomic-force microscope. Measurement of mechanical rigidity of cell walls of bacteria by a scanning force microscope. Supervision of growth dynamics of a cell containing radionuclides by a scanning probe microscope with nanometer spatial resolution. Observation of surface morphology and estimation of mechanical properties as adhesion, friction, viscous-elasticity of healthy and infected cells.
3. The medical examination will be carried in particular: a questionnaire on dietary characteristics, social conditions, bad habits, previous diseases, etc.; general pediatric examination; electrocardiography; blood pressure measurement; gastroscopy with gastrobiopsy; morphological investigation of gastric bioptates; lens examination with split lamp; ultrasonography of the thyroid with biometry and assessment of goiter; whole body count or human exposure spectrometer; blood and urine sampling for blood analysis and measurement of toxic elements lead and cadmium and essential ones like copper, iron and iodine.

Expected results with the use of new methods will allow scientists:

- to study the peculiarities of dose burden formed in the population of the Republic within 15 years after the accident at the Chernobyl NPP;
- to estimate the influence of radionuclides on the morphofunctional state of the main systems of life support;
- to make suggestions concerning the modernization of protective measurement of a small radiation dose;
- modernization of the medical service system for the population of Belarus, affected by the Chernobyl catastrophe.


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