High levels of urban air pollution can do more to shorten life expectancy than the radiation exposure of emergency workers sent into the 30-kilometre exclusion zone around Chernobyl immediately after the nuclear accident, the report said.
Jim Smith, a scientist at the UK government’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Dorchester , assessed the health risks faced by emergency workers and people living unofficially in the exclusion zone afterwards. He then compared them with the risks of air pollution,
obesity and smoking.
Writing in the journal BMC Public Health, Smith said: "Populations still living unofficially in the abandoned lands around Chernobyl may actually have a lower health risk from radiation than they would have if they were exposed to air pollution in a large city, such as nearby Kiev."