Posters for the exhibition

Art shooting in progress.
About 1,5 months ago, I finished the painting that you could see featured in this post.
My plan was to put this painting on display on my exhibition, and in the discussions around it all, the suggestion to make posters from it came up. I found this being an excellent idea, especially as I had been warned concerning the risk of items "getting feet" at the city library, and partly for the reason that I'm not too fond of the thought of having something I've spent almost two weeks of work on stolen; partly because there was an interest in this painting, I decided to go through with it. And make posters. 

One box of posters.
I wouldn't have been able to go through with it, if it hadn't been for two good friends of mine; L-G Johansson (Sweden), who introduced me to a skilled photographer named Josef Pollak, who took great shots of a number of my paintings including this one, and Nicolas Huck in Germany who made high quality printing possible without leaving me financially broken. Great thanks to you three.

Some of these posters, measuring 42 x 53 cm, will be available for purchase at my exhibition in Gothenburg, and if there's an interest, I'll also sell them over the internet. If so, more information will follow. Also a number of posters will be donated to the National Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, which they may sell and keep all the profit to support their activity.


Vladimir Shevchenko's last film

Vladimir Shevchenko was a Ukrainian filmmaker who visited the ChNPP only a few days after the accident in 1986. Currently working for Ukrainian TV, he was obviously not aware of the dangers of radiation as he did his work without wearing a protection suit or other protective gear. 

Shevchenko, and two of his camera men, received hospital treatment, but  in March 1987, he died as a consequence of having received an excessive dose of radiation. Shevchenko's death was not added to the official Soviet casualty toll, which by that time showed only 30 deaths. In April 1987, on the one year anniversary of the disaster, the same number whas repeated. 

This nearly seven minutes long movie clip is the last film Shevchenko ever made, and even though his name is not to be found on any lists, we will remember him by this. It's called Severe Days.

[Note: Vladimir Shevchenko also made the movie Chernobyl - Chronicle of Difficult Weeks. This film, being a part of the 12-video collection of Soviet documentaries called Glasnost Film Festival is not available online, but if interested, you may purchase it here]


Talking to Aleksandr V. Strannik

I don't want to finish this. Getting to know about Aleksandr Vladimirovich has meant something of depth to me and added another spectra to my views on Chernobyl, the disaster, and the web of facts and stories that surround it all. Getting to know him, means much to me.

Our correspondence will proceed, and I will go on asking questions, but this is likely the last post I'll make for a long while, about his memories and the time he spent at the ChNPP. But I prefer to keep this topic open.

All photos are by A. V Strannik.

"I went there voluntarily, wrote a request to make the journey. From our management, there was a department of 50 people who went to the ChNPP.

There was a sad mood amongst the working liquidators. Not because of the dangers to personal health, but because of that we knew that this country would not be suitable for life for many years to come. The guys working in the "hot zone" received 5 times the salary, but when scoring 25 R [2,5 Sv] or more, which could happen in a day or in an hour, they were put on "clean work"My daily life there, my work, was about decontaminating vehicles and to keep track of the levels of radiation, and sometimes to decide the work of other units.

The atmosphere was friendly, when people met, but the communication between different groups [Note: groups of work and profession] was poor. We who were in this group, were engineers and scientists from St. Petersburg (Leningrad). We understood the situation and the circumstances concerning the 4th block and the stories we were told.

There was a careless hurry in removing the shrapnel whilst cleaning the roof [of the 4th block] and with the building of the Sarcophagus. The evacuation of Pripyat went well. No riot police, no victims... But there was the general stupidity of the work organization; the lack of a solid strategy to eliminate the risk of accidents and adapt actions to new circumstances. After what I saw myself, and what I heard from witnesses, I got an appreciation of what was affected - now I know how we fought the second World War.

There was a careless hurry in removing the shrapnel whilst cleaning the roof [of the 4th block] and with the building of the Sarcophagus. The evacuation of Pripyat went well. No riot police, no victims... But there was the general stupidity of the work organization; the lack of a solid strategy to eliminate the risk of accidents and adapt actions to new circumstances. After what I saw myself, and what I heard from witnesses, I got an appreciation of what was affected - now I know how we fought the second World War.When arriving at Chernobyl, I needed to learn the extent of the accident. "What are you going to do here?" asked the boss. "I can shovel debris, like a bulldozer". In August we wished to go on a mission. Request denied. I remember those who wanted to follow; I gathered 5 more people. Curiously enough, the authorities had become lazy as we left, too lazy to alarm. 

Physically as well as mentally, most people I met were normal. But I never met those working in the most dangerous areas. I believe that the most dangerous work was constructing the Sarcophagus and removing the Red Forest in order to clear the area near the site."

After this month of work in the ChNPP, Vladimirovich never returned to Chernobyl.


The Story of a Photographer and Chernobyl Engineer, part III - Mushrooms

My contact and correspondence with Aleksandr Vladimirovich has increased, and he's come to encourage my work. "It's very good that young people from other countries are interested in the disaster" he told me, wishing me good luck and also offering to try to answer any questions I may have, and yes - as you can probably guess I have a lot of questions, and I have only just begun phrasing and typing down the first of all these questions...

In a hopefully near future you will be able to read the results of this communication. 

Still to this day, people are warned not to pick or consume any mushrooms from Chernobyl or the fallout areas, but Vladimirovich has a different story to tell:

Picking mushrooms in Chernobyl, by A.V Strannik.
"So what about fearing your environments? People are drawn to the exotic, to apples and mushrooms. By now we have good, foreign instruments to measure radiation; the levels of contamination and not just alpha, beta and gamma radiation.

Having measured the levels of radiation from the mushrooms we found, we weren't afraid - it was almost equal to the normal background radiation, only a little higher."

Still, there was a general fear and scepticism agains teating anything growing near the area. But...

"When the mushroom were cleaned, and frying, the scent spread through the room, even the most doubtful came around to taste it; two large portions each and it was all finished."

[Note: The conditions have changed since August 1986. To be on the safe side you should not ingest mushrooms, berries, or any other crop rich on potassium, as potassium is a natural radioactive element in the human body, and also potassium resembles caesium, why mushrooms tend to absorb the latter as well.]


The Story of a Photographer and Chernobyl Engineer, part II - Alexandr Vladimirovich and Alla Pugachyova.

Alla Pugachyova and Vladimir Kuzmin performing in Zeleniy Mys, 1986.

By the age of 30, Aleksandr Vladimirovich had already participated in photo exhibitions as well as received prizes for his aestethic work, and when going to work at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, he brought his camera. Here's another fragment of the story of the air purification engineer, whose true passion is depicturing the world around him. 

The Russian mega star Alla Pugachyova was the first artist to perform in Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster, and Vladimirovich recalls the day of her concert:

"We arrived in our UAP [abbrevation for Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant; УАЗ, Ульяновский автомобильный завод - this is a vehicle] and parked at the fith row. The concert was sold out. The arriving people filled up all space available, and the roofs of their cars - and the roof of our car was all crowded as well. Alla was with Kuzmin [Vladimir Kuzmin, Russian musician], and it was all wonderful. As a curious note, she sang her song "Ask a lady for a dance" [Пригласите даму танцевать] and asked everyone to dance. But nobody danced. Shame on them! Then she pulled up a brave young man, and they danced, but I cannot find any of those photos."

Thousands of Chernobyl victims were listening to Alla Pugachyova that night, on September 8th, 1986, in the small town called Zeleniy Mys [Зеленый Мыс], in the Crimea region. She performed for three hours without seeming to get tired, and there was  a three time encore of her song "Harlequin".
However, this wasn't Pugachyova's first concert in Ukraine that year. In the very summer of 1986, she held a concert n Chernobyl for the liquidators there. But of the food and flowers the star usually received, there was none to give, de to the Chernobyl fallout and contamination. Only alcohol was available; vodka, whiskey and red wine. Witnesses say, that backstage, Pugachyova drank red wine straight from the bottle, to clean her body from Strontium. Most of her audience from that day, are no longer with us.

"Medication for radiation" by A.V Strannik.

Remembering Alla Pugachyova's concert, Vladimirovich also recalls when the first unit left the  Chernobyl central storage in April 1986. "The boys were told 'Who wants to go to the south for a few weeks?' And that's all the got to know - they thought they were going to Crimea. They brought their best clothes; suits, shirts and ties - for going out dancing! Later, I discovered these clothes in the back of the garage. They didn't get them back. My opinion is that this was due to the lack of knowledge of radiation and the general fear of contamination. The next team to make the same journey, left wearing their most poor clothes."

Bottles like the one on the photo on the right, along with a thermos, were sent out to the Chernobyl veterans on the 25th anniversary of the disaster. That, and a framed diploma.

[Note: The unquoted short text about  Pugachyova's Pugachyova's performance is based on my own research and not quoting Aleksandr Vladimirovich. Below: Alla Pugachyova performing in Zeleniy Mys1986]


The Story of a Photographer and Chernobyl Engineer, part I

A short time ago, I stumbled upon a modest web page with photos of the ChNPP, taken in the summer of 1986. At least so it seemed.

It didn't take me long to trace the photographer, and when so was done, I wrote him an e-mail, asking about the photos.

His name is Aleksandr Vladimirovich Strannik, a man who worked at the ChNPP for one month in the year of 1986 and who loved and still loves photography. These photos is a part of his story and memory of that period of time. On the 19th of April this year, he decided to share his story with the (Russian speaking part of the) world, and my intention is now to pass these further on to you. The text below is partly words from Vladimirovich's journal, and partly from my correspondence with him.

When I told Aleksandr Vladimirovich about my project and showed him my blog, his response was "I see that you're interested in the subject, but me - I was shocked by the accident and the wave of helpless people."

By these words, something suddenly became concrete, and the ordeals and suffering of all these people at last became very clear to me. To read about those who died, those who saved the world and those who still mourn them is real enough, but actually communicating, even if not actually meeting, one of those who were there, and who are still alive carrying the memories, turns it into so much more than being only history.

As 30 years old Aleksandr Vladimirovich came to the Chernobyl NPP in August 1986, to work as an engineer for air purification and dosimetrist, he found that the liquidators had already taken care of the most dangerous cleaning work, and the construction of the Sarcophagus was in full progress. To stop the big threat that the 4th reactor constituted, was top priority at this time, and Vladimirovich, not able to determine whether these men were heroes or just ignorant or careless individuals,  remembers the drivers who transported concrete to the Sarcophagus. They were paid at least 5 times a normal Soviet wage, and were all promised a Lada (car) without having to wait in line for it, when their work was done. Vladimirovich could not know for sure, but he suspected that these men were exposed to at least 20 R/h (2 Sv/h). "This was said to mean one hour of safe work, but it wasn't realistic, regarding the circumstances. Most of them are probably gone by now."

(1) The Sarcophagus under construction.
On this photo (1), you can see the Sarcophagus, concrete transportation/construction vehicles and machines, and the "White box", a booth of lead made to protect the drivers it hid from lethal doses of radiation.

The Sarcophagus (2): "It was built to protect from new emissions. It wasted money and health." Vladimirovich quotes a line from the magazine Yunost [Юность, means "youth"] on the 20th anniversary of the ChNPP disaster:  "'All the fuel was burnt in the beginning of the process of constructions, for such a protection wasn't needed.' If this theory is correct, then the entire strategy of liquidation was a mistake, as today's project of the Shelter", ad even though typed, the sarcasm in Vladimirovich's words is clearly notable.

Vladimirovich was curious and wanted to take photos of the top of the reactor. Thus he went to the airfield, and there were no security check nor personnel. By the edge of the field stood a trailer, and inside it were all the pilots. 

There were no photos of the pilots.
"Who are you?" asked the pilots. 
"I'm a photographer who wants to see the top of the reactor." 
"Go to the yellow helicopter, they often fly around the block."
"And I went" Vladimirovich tells. "They asked if I was crazy and we were sent back by force. The said they didn't run any business trips for photographers. I took photos of the crew and they asked me when they'd get to see these photos. I told them that I'd develop the photos the same evening and they told me that if I returned the following day, they's fly me over the reactor. I returned when the day was almost through, because I could not come earlier and asked 'Where's the yellow helicopter?' They suspiciously asked me why I wanted to know and I showed them the photos of the guys that I'd brought. 'They promised me a ride over the reactor.' I was told that they had crashed the previous day. The crew was still alive within the walls of a lead sheeted hospital. They who would made an exception and take me on this ride. 'Good luck', they told me, and I passed on the photos of the boys. I was really interested in this flight." 

This is the first part of the story of Aleksandr Vladimirovich Strannik. I won't be able to go on until I've had some more questions answered, so I'm o stand by as much as you are, comrades.


The last helmet lost.

It looks like I finally, and sadly enough, can close my case concerning the lost firefighter's helmet.
If you've followed this blog regularly, you already know that this helmet has been an important question to me ever since I found it out there, and then I concidered myself lucky because as this discovery became known also to certain others, a search begun to try to find and save this last helmet, but today I received bad news. - The person taking on the task had searched in vain:

"I did try to find it and spent a lot of time on these searches but unfortunately without any success. I assume someone already took it as a “souvenir”
For me personally, this is very sad, and in the aspect of the Zone as a museum this is a big loss. Another piece of history has been removed.


The Sacrifice

The last few days have gone by without anything having happened here. What can I say - each day is one day closer to the opening of my exhibition, and the preparation work is piling up, but unfortunately that still doesn't mean that the day gets more than 24 hours. In the nearest future I probably won't be able to post here every day, but still I'll try to do it as regularly as possibly. After all - the project continues.

Being done with the civil updates, I want to draw your attention back to my previous posts about radiation and the effect and damage it may have on the human body. Shortly after the first part was published, a woman gave me a tip about a Chernobyl documentary called The Sacrifice, a 26 minutes film by the Swiss journalist Wladimir Tchertkoff and Emanuela Andreoli about liquidators of Chernobyl and the consequenses they suffered after performing their duties at work. This film, made in 2003, focuses on the health condition of a few liquidators years after the Chernobyl disaster - the consequenses of absorbing large doses of radiation. These liquidators, and their families, tell about bodies decomposing whilst still alive. 


Poetry from Pripyat II - Every Day Romantics

When all crucial writings are done; when all artwork is accomplished, I will translate this book fully, before returning it where it belongs. Here's another poem from Pripyat, coloured by the politic state of the time. 

I thank Vlad Kamenskyy and Katsuk for pointing me in the right direction concerning the Ukrainian language.

Fluid songs, the buzz of moquitoes
Warm fires' noise and the chords  of guitars
Happy hours and dreams in tents
Were much too expensive

For a long time you doubted
a kilogram of a worker's sweat mixed with itself

Beginning an everyday life,
and quench the hot stars

Be brave
Where now to travel?

A more consistent journey
than the spare coins of youth await

Creation of
 - an address  

And to work and exploit

What you have just read, is not a word-by-word- translation, but my own interpretation of the context: Discard the ways of youth and adapt to a future as a good worker.


About radiation, part 3: Closing up

There's too much about radiation to be dealt with in a simple blog like this - after all, it's a science of its own, and a subject that we still don't know everything about.

In the two previous posts, I tried to cover the most basic things about the effects of radiation on the human body, but I realize, and apologize for it, that I forgot to explain the very basics of radioactivity itself; what it is and how it occurs.

Radioactivity is the result of the process of spontaneously decaying atom nuclei emitting ionizing radiation. Alpha, beta, and gamma radiation are the most common types of radiation. 

Alpha radiation is constituted of so called alpha particles, like nuclei of Helium atoms: Two neutrons and two protons. This kind of radiation is easily blocked by other matters - just a sheet of paper is enough -  and can for example not penetrate the outer skin layer. Thus, alpha radiation is only dangerous if in direct contact with living cells, which may happen through ingestion on alpha contaminated food or inhalation of alpha radiationg particles.

Beta radiation and beta particles consists of electrons and/or positrons formed during beta decay. If ingested, it's less dangeous than alpha radiation, as a beta particle has lesser mass than an alpha particle. Beta radiation has the ability to penetrate human tissue with a reach of 1 cm (which, if you've read the previous post, you remember may cause severe burns). This kind of radiation can also change the structure of struck molecules and mutate them. A few millimeters of Aluminium will shut out beta radiation.

Gamma radiation consists of photons and is also recognized as the electromagnetic radiation emitted by atom nuclei. Gamma rays are the most penetrative kind of rays connected to radioactivity. It may be blocked out by a concrete wall or lead. Gamma radiation is what causes what we refer to as radiation sickness. It causes damage throughout the body and increase the risk of cancer to occur.

Now  we know more about what may happen if exposed to radiation in different doses, but if exposed to a degree where it becomes a health problem, how can it be treated?

ARS symptoms don't develop immediately, as it takes time for the mutated DNA to produce enough proteins to make an obvious change in body chemistry and structure, and  unfortunately there is no known way to treat this, as doctors and scientists are unable to repair damaged DNA. All they can do is treating the symptoms.

Concerning cancer inflicted by radiation, it's treated just like cancer with no connection to radioactive exposure, by cytotoxin or more commonly, by radiotherapy. 


About radiation, part 2: How it may affect the human body

Most of the radiation around us comes from Radon.

Radon (Rn) is a gas, which in itself is harmless, but when it decays, it emits ionizing radiation, primarily in the form of alpha particles.

The most frequently occuring isotope of Radon is Rn-222, which is formed as the Uranium in the bedrock decays, and thus Radon exists naturally in the ground. It can also exist in building structures and even in drinking water, the latter due to the bedrock surroundings of the groundwater.

Especially Radon in residential buildings is in some countries a problem: As you just read, the gas itself isn't dangerous, but during decay, the Polonium ions 218 and 214 are formed. These stick to dust and smoke particles which then stick to the lungs when inhaled. Inside the lungs, the chain of decay continues, and this alpha decay causes damage to the breathing organs and increases the risk of lung cancer to develop.

Smokers, ex-smokers and passive smokers are for clear reasons exceptionally exposed to these risks. A non smoker; i.e an individual who has never smoked, the risk of Radon induced cancer is approximately 0,41%, but for an active smoker, the risk lies at about 9,7%. World wide, Radon is estimated to cause 3-14% of the total number of cases of lung cancer, and in Sweden, the number of cases is approximately 500 per year.

Now with these numbers dealt with, and a brief introduction to that ionizing radiation may induce cancer, the next logical question should be about how and why it happens.

The cell nucleus, containing the DNA molecule, is very sensitive to radiation, so exposed to such, it may lead to an uncontrolled division of cells, which in turn may lead to cancer. The cells that divide fastest, for example the cells of the bone marrow and the mucus membranes of the digestive organs, which are constantly regenerated, are more easily affected by ionizing radiation than for example brain cells. With the knowledge of ionizing radiation have accumulated to this day, it's been calculated that a one time exposure to a dose of 20 mSv increases the risk of developing cancer with 0,1%. It may take up to 20 years before cancer induced by low doses of radiation occur.

May I now bore you with some information about some of the fallout elements of the Chernobyl disaster and how they affect the human body? I thought not, here goes.

Iodine-131 has a half life of only 8 days and the human body's absorption of it can be blocked by ingesting Iodine pills. Absorbed Iodine is concentrated to the thyroid and when the Iodine is radioactive, the decay causes damage to the thyroid, but by taking supplements such as mentioned Iodine pills, providing the body with a maximum amount of Iodine, which reduces the uptake of the element.

However, the younger an individual is at the time of exposure, the greater are the risks of developing thyroid cancer. Children and teenagers, who are not fully physically developed, take more damage  from Iodine-131 than adults, who doesn't seem to show any significant difference in tyroid disease, compared to an unexposed group of equvalents.

In Kiev, Iodine supplements were handed out to the population 14 days after the disaster. By this time, they were pretty much useless.

Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of Caesium, which is formed by nuclear fission, and having a half life of 30 years, it means that areas exposed to Chernobyl fallout are still more or less contaminated.  Caesium-137 hasn't existed "naturally" on Earth for many billion years, but the occurance of the element in modern times,  is caused by man and  Caesium-137 is evenly distributed in the body, although with a higher concentration in muscular tissue, differently from...

Strontium-90, which goes straight to the skeleton and teeth, as the human body absorbs it as if it was Calcium. Calcium and Strontium have chemical similarity, but this unstable isotope of Strontium may induce bone cancer and other bone related disorder and diseases.

Ironically enough, Strontium-90 is used in cancer therapy, due to its long half life (28 years) and beta emission.
Photo from http://www.freeinfosociety.com

Lets now summarize in what other ways radiation may affect the human body.

The blood system
Even relatively low doses of radiation may inflict a reduction of  lymphocytes (white blood cells). These have the function of keeping the body clean from infections and without them, this part of the individiual's natural physiological defence is reduced, and the individual simply becomes more exposed to infections. For example flu like symptoms in a person who's been exposed to radiation, may be indicating a reduction as such, and the symptom can sometimes last for up to ten years. Patients with an insufficient amout of lymphocytes in their blood system are more susceptible to leukemia (blood cancer).

The brain
is due to its none reproductive cells, was  believed not to be affected by radiation, but  when it comes to absorption of high doses, as for example the cases of the firefighters and liquidators I mentioned in my previous post, damage to the central nervous system was recorded, and nowadays we also know that there's a connection between high doses of radiation and brain tumours.
The heart
Moderate doses of radiation may cause damage to capillaries and thereby also the heart. As the small blood vessels burst, the blood isn't transported properly to the heart, which increases the risk of cardiac arrest, which was the cause of death for many liquidators.

The reproductive organs
Ionizing radiation doesn't only affect the vital organs of the human body, but also the reproductive systems, (which  due to that also the cells of these divide very fast) are very susceptible to radiation damage. Many victims of radiation poisoning become sterile, males in particular. Radiation also affect fetuses and after the Chernobyl disaster a large number of abortions were obtained throughout Europe, due to fear of the radiation from the Chernobyl fallout. Among the deleterious effects on fetuses are miscarriage, birth defects, mental retardation, growth retardation (whilst still in uterus) and development of cancer.

The skin
Chernobyl firefighter, Photo from http://www.sxolsout.org.uk/
Ionizing radiation can inflict burns often refered to as gamma or beta burns. Beta radiation isn't able to  penetrate deeply into the body but manifest like shallow skin burns, but if exposed to intense beta radiation, indications of burns manifest in 24-48 hours with an itching or  burning sensation, and after 7-21 days, the actual symptoms appear as erythema, increased pigmentation, then desquamation/epilation and skin lesions. 
Concerning victims of the Chernobyl disaster, this was a serious issue. Of 115 liquidators treated in Moscow, 30% had severe burns covering signifigant areas of the body surface. This exposure was often caused by radioactive water (and recently there's been similar cases in Fukushima, Japan) Some firefighters suffered internal beta burns after inhalation of massive amounts of radioactive smoke and out of the 28 first deaths, 16 liquidators and firefighters had skin injuries listed among the causes. 
The skeleton 
The non growing portions of the bone are relatively resistant to radiation, but for growing individuals such as children and teenagers, large doses of radiation may retard the growth and development of the bones, and the bone marrow, where blood cells are formed, is generally at a greater risk of being damaged, inducting leukemia. and bone cancer. Exposure to Strontium-90 means an increased risk.

The thyroid
Also the thyroid is very susceptible to radiation and thyroid cancer is the most frequently occuring consequence. Above, I mentioned how the exposure to Iodine-131may affect especially young individuals, but if you want more in-depth information, a good article is to be found here.

Ionizing radiation affect more or less the entire body in different ways, but all of them lead to damage, disease or death. I'd like to spend more time digging further into this, but I'm afraid I do not have that time.


About radiation, part 1: Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS)

It's all around us, its everywhere - just like Kraftwerk points out in their song Radioaktivity: 
"Radioactivity - it's in the air for you and me"
 ...and this is true. Every day we're exposed to radiation. Living on Earth, the magnetic field of the planet protects us from dangerous gamma radiation from the space that surrounds us all, but even down here, we're still exposed to radiation from various sources: Radiation also comes from the bedrock, our TV sets, computers and a lot of other utilities and devices we have invented and even from ourselves. Like all living creatures on this planet, we radiate.

However, the gathering term of "radiation" is generally mistaken for ionizing radiation, which is a term for the kind of radiation that has the characteristics of knocking electrons from their atoms, which turns the atoms into ions. Ionizing radiation, to put it shortly, may be electromagnetic radiation (gamma, roentgen and ultraviolet radiation) or particle radiation which is constituted by atoms or parts of atoms moving in a "flow". Examples of this is alpha, beta and neutron radiation. 

Chernobyl liquidator in 1986. Photo from Belarus.com
But what happens when the human body is exposed to ionizing radiation? 
As the energy of the [ionzing] radiation reaches the body, electrically charged elements are formed, and these are the very ions. They trigger the culturing of new, strange elements in the tissue which may cause irreparable damage to the cells. The constitution of hydrogen peroxide easily adapts to the molecules of the human body and  is known to alter their chemical structures.

Still to this day, we know more of acute radioation syndrome (ARS) than we may be able to determine happens to the human body if exposed to relatively small increased levels of ionizing radiation during a longer time span. It's recorded that such a thing increases the risk of developing cancer, but there are still many questions that need to be answered within that area, as it's also been proven that people living on sites where the bedrock emit higher levels of radiation, are generally healthier than their equivalents in places where the bedrock is less radioactive, so it goes without saying that we still have a lot to learn about radiation.

Acute Radiation Syndrome
Radiation, nowadays, is measured accoring to the Sievert (Sv) units, but there's another unit for measuring how much ionizing radiation the human body has absorbed, and this is measured in so called Grays (Gy). 1 Gy is equivalent to 1 Sv The threshold of ARS is defined between 0,5 - 1,0 Gy - having exceeded this limit, the well known symptoms of nausea, vertigo and vomiting occur.  If being exposed to what is regarded as a mild dose (1-2 Gy) you may expect symptoms of nausea and vomiting withing six hours, and the later effects, such as weakness and fatique,  will occur approximately three to five weeks later. 

 If having absorbed more than 6 Gy, most symptoms, nausea, headache, vomiting, fever and diarrhea will occur within a matter of hours, and then follows the so called latent period. Also at mild exposure, there is a latent period followed by mild leukopenia (Leukopenia means a decrease of white blood cells in the human body, which increases the risk of infections.) fatique and weakness, but the mortality is low: Regardless if being treated or not, the mortality is lower than 5% and those who die from mild absorption are especially old individuals, or individuals of already poor health, but at absorption over 6 Gy, death is almost certain if the individiual is not treated and even if treated, the mortality is between 50-100%. 

Workers on the roof or reactor block 4, 1986. Photo: guardian.co.uk
The higher the absorption, the shorter is the latent period and absorbing over 8 Gy, the latent period will be absent and death follows within 2-14 days. 

Even though no one seem to be able to determine or tell for sure, about the levels of radiation that some of the Chernobyl liquidators were exposed to, we can almost be sure of that they absorbed far over 8 Gy (some firefighters were estimated to having been exposed to approximately 750 Roentgen per hour, but the true numbers should exceed this. 750 R = 7.5 Sv = 7.5 Gy), why they died very shortly after the exposure, over a short time span having suffered multiple severe ARS symptoms.

ARS symptoms at absorption over 8 Gy are: Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, intense headache, high fever, electrolyte disturbance, shock and disturbance of the central nervous system.


Bio Robot

Some neighbours wondered what I was doing
"What is this? Bio robot cosplay, or did you suddenly lose the last sense of your mind and now pretend to be a Stalker?" No, don't be alarmed - I'm too old for cosplay, and of course there is a reason for all this. 

This is a replica of the suits worn by the liquidators (Bio robots) who shoveled the radioactive graphite off the roof of Reactor 4 and it's going to be a part of my exhibition (there are protection gloves too,,that are supposed to be sealed  against the sleeves of the jacket) but unfortunately I forgot to put them on). I believe that It is fairly accurate, even though the only reference pic I had, is the one inch image of a fridge magnet I bought at the Chernobyl museum in Kiev last year, and even if I have some details wrong, at least I'll be able to tell the story behind these suits. If anyone has a comment or better images of this type of liquidator suit, feel free to write me a line.

It took me less that two days to construct this outfit, which consists of:

My fridge magnet, 5 x 8 cm.
  • Simple protective jacket and trousers
  • Back piece. I have no idea what the original were made of (although most likely containing lead) but this one is of rubber.
  • Front piece "apron". The authentic protection should have had lead in it as well, and the only reason that I didn't put lead into this one is that I don't currently store lead at home)
 And in order to put it all together, the following was required:

  • 3 meters of fabrics for the protective jacket and trousers.
  • 0,50 x 0,96 meters of rubber for the back piece
  • 2 meters of leather straps
  • Rivets, 2 metal rings, 1 meter of waxed thread, 3 small buckles and additional leather.
  • 0,70 meters of fake leather for the front piece.
The respirator is however Swedish, which will be pointed out at the exhibition.


Moscovian "stalkers" arrested in the Zone

Photo on courtesy of http://ukr.obozrevatel.com
C.G Jung, the psychologist and psychiatrist would have called it synchronicity, because only shortly after having written my article about tourism in the Zone, two news items show up related to the contents: First the announcement of the closing of Chernobyl for visitors and now this.

Recently, four men from Moscow, aged 25 to 36 years old, were arrested by police for illegally visiting the Zone. According to the source - the Ukrainian internet newspaper Obozrevatel [Oбозреватель], these "Stalkers" had already spent two days in the Zone when finally reaching their goal - the town of Pripyat. After that, the men moved on to an abandoned village in the area, where they were surprised by an ambush. Failing to escape from the police, the four were brought in and interrogated. 

One of the prisoners claims to have tried to get into the Zone before, but having been denied accees, he gathered his comrades and instead snuck in through the back door. The men also brought utilities they claimed were for hunting and protection against wild animals; two hunting knives and a Schmeiser gun. The items have been confiscated as a part of the investigation, and the results of this investigation will decide on what further actions shall be taken against the four.

The Russians have already been fined; forced to pay a total of 500 UAH, and have been handed over to authorities who will decide the fate of these foreigners.


The Zone is closed!

Friends, this is only a short newsflash.
Barely 36 hours after having posted my article about tourism in the Zone, information reaches me that the Zone now is closed. This was decided by the Ukrainian government on June 20th. Last week I heard something similar from a relatively uncertain source, but now it appears as a fact.

What does this mean? 
It means that till further notice, there will be a ban including everyone from outside the Zone, with only a few exceptions (journalists, for example) and all this is said to be due to "reorganization" of the Exclusion Zone, and the ban is said to be due till October this year. 

Currently, I don't know more than this, but as soon as I do, I'll let you know.
Over and out.