Elisabeth Cardis, head of the Radiation Program in CREAL, an allied ISGlobal centre, received on May 17 the diploma and medal “Chernobyl – 30 years” awarded by the A. Tsyb Medical Radiological Research Centre of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, for her personal contribution to the investigation and mitigation of the health consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The ceremony rewarded six foreign experts and took place during an international conference on the health effects of Chernobyl organized in Obninsk, where the first nuclear reactor was built.
“I was the first epidemiologist to arrive in Obninsk, 25 years ago. Since then, I have worked with local experts with the aim of evaluating the health consequences of the accident”, comments Dr. Cardis. These studies include the establishment of cancer registries, pilot studies and epidemiological studies on the risk of cancer among the staff that decontaminated the nuclear plant and the 30 km “no-go zone”, as well as the risk of thyroid cancer among the young Belorussian and Russian population.
“Many of the radiation effects, like cancer and cardiovascular disorders, appear decades after radiation exposure: one can still see effects among Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors more than 70 years after the atomic bomb explosions”, she explains, “which is why we are trying to organize, at the international level, a program for the long-term follow-up of the most exposed populations, particularly the workers that cleaned the area.
Elisabeth Cardis coordinates SHAMISEN, a CREAL (ISGlobal allied centre) led multinational project brings together 19 partner institutions from Europe and Japan, as well as experts from Belarus, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the USA to critically review lessons learned from nuclear accidents. The project is funded by the European Commission through the EC OPERRA action and its main goal is to draw recommendations for immediate and long-term response to future radiation accidents and respond to the needs of affected populations while minimizing unnecessary anxiety.