For information only - not an official document

25 April 2018

UN Scientific Committee launches a new evaluation of thyroid cancer data in regions affected by the Chernobyl accident

VIENNA, 25 April (UN Information Service) - The secretariat of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) released today a White Paper evaluating thyroid cancer data in regions affected by the Chernobyl accident to guide the Scientific Committee's future programme of work.

The publication recapitulates previous findings of the Scientific Committee on this matter, reports the latest data provided by the three most affected countries (Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine), summarizes key literature of the past years, and makes an assessment of the cases of thyroid cancer that could be attributed to radiation exposure.

About 20,000 cases of thyroid cancer cases were registered in the period 1991−2015 in males and females, who were under 18 in 1986 for the whole of Belarus and Ukraine, and for the four most contaminated oblasts of the Russian Federation. The Scientific Committee now estimates that one in four of those cases is attributable to radiation exposure.

"Thyroid cancer is a major problem after the Chernobyl accident and needs further investigation to better understand the long-term consequences," said Hans Vanmarcke, Chair of UNSCEAR.

Further, the UNSCEAR 2017 Report to the General Assembly in New York with two scientific annexes was also recently published. Annex A deals with the principles and criteria for ensuring the quality of the Committee's reviews of epidemiological studies of radiation exposures, and annex B evaluates cancer risk resulting from radiation exposure to low dose rates from environmental sources. This annex analyses relevant epidemiological studies based on the availability of individual radiation doses with a focus on assessing strengths and limitations of these studies, and taking into account the quality criteria described in annex A.

"The application of the quality criteria developed in the UNSCEAR 2017 Report will help to maintain the high scientific standard necessary for the Committee's widely valued reports," said Vanmarcke.

The Scientific Committee will hold its 65th session from 11 to 14 June 2018 in Vienna, Austria.


The mandate of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), established in 1955, is to undertake broad reviews of the sources of ionizing radiation and the effects on human health and the environment. Its assessments provide a scientific foundation for United Nations agencies and governments to formulate standards and programmes for protection against ionizing radiation. It does not deal with or assess nuclear safety or emergency planning issues. The secretariat in Vienna, which is functionally linked to UN Environment in Nairobi, organizes the annual sessions and manages the preparation of documents for the Committee's scrutiny.

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For further information, contact:

Ferid Shannoun
Acting Secretary, UNSCEAR
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060 4331
Email: ferid.shannoun[at]