“radiation lurks in the water, the soil, and the food…”
Chernobyl Victims, 26 years after the accident
Today, the threat remains. Caesium-137, a radioactive isotope that was released during the
accident, has a half-life of 30 years and will actively trigger radioactivity in the region for
decades to come. Fractures in the sarcophagus built around the reactor to confine the
radioactivity have allowed the toxins to escape. Radiation lurks in the water, the soil and
the food: fruits, vegetables, milk and meat in the region are contaminated and will remain
hazardous for generations.
Radiation attacks developing cells and damages tissue, organs and bones. It weakens
immune systems, leaving children vulnerable to an onslaught of infections and disease.
Thyroid cancer, heart disease, genetic defects and weak immune systems define childhood
for the people living in the contaminated regions. The rate of pediatric cancer in Belarus is
200 times the world norm. These children were born many years — some even decades —
after the explosion.