In a paper focusing on ‘Chernobyl’s subclinical legacy’, economists Mårten Palme from Stockholm University and Lena Edlund and Douglas Almond from New York’s Columbia University explore the effects of increased radiation levels in Sweden in the wake of the April 1986 disaster.
A statistical analysis of the academic performance of 562,637 Swedes born between 1983 and 1988 indicated to the authors that “the cohort in utero during the Chernobyl accident had worse school outcomes than adjacent birth cohorts, and this deterioration was largest for those exposed approximately 8-25 weeks post conception.”
Students born in the eight municipalities experiencing the highest levels of radiation “were 3.6 percentage points less likely to qualify to high school as a result of the fallout.”
The authors came to the conclusion that pre-natal exposure to radiation levels previously considered safe is in fact damaging to cognitive ability.
Speaking to The Local, Professor Mårten Palme said that he would “prefer not to comment on the findings because the paper hasn’t been published yet”.
Chemistry World reports that the authors expect their paper to be published later this month as a US National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.