Ukrainians’ average life expectancy has dropped by two years since 1990, and a health official on Tuesday pinned at least some of the blame on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
The average Ukrainian can expect to live to 69, down from 71 in 1990, said Anatoly Voloshin, director of the state health center. For men, the average life span is now 64, down from 66; for women it is 74, from 76.
By comparison, the average American man can expect to live to 72, the average American woman to 79.
“This is one of the worst effects of the accident,” Voloshin said, referring to the April 26, 1986 explosion at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which released clouds of radiation.
Other factors harmful to the country’s health include poor nutrition and widespread pollution.
Voloshin said some 50,000 deaths in Ukraine - mostly caused by blood disorders and cancer - could be linked to Chernobyl.
The Chernobyl accident also contributed to higher infant mortality, he said. Two years ago, he said, nine of every 1,000 babies died shortly after birth, compared to 14 out of 1,000 today.