Answer to Question #7157 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Power, Devices, and Accidents — Nuclear Accidents

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


Are clothes and wool coats made in Ukraine and Belarus radioactive due to the Chernobyl accident? Is there any screening done on products imported to the United States? I always avoid purchasing them and even have a fear of being exposed to radiation by these articles of clothing.


According to the information that I could obtain, wool and cotton that are used to make clothes and coats in Ukraine and in Belarus are imported from other countries and, therefore, are not tainted with radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident. Therefore, there is no screening in Belarus or in Ukraine before export to the United States and I do not think that there is any special screening done on these products at the U.S. border.

I should point out that, even if local products were used to manufacture clothes and coats in Belarus and in Ukraine, the radioactive contamination of the clothes would be very small because most of the environmental radioactivity that was released during the accident has disappeared during the more than 20 years that have elapsed and also because the production of the textile materials would have contributed to the elimination of the radioactivity. I must admit, however, that I am not aware of any measurements that could support my conclusions.

André C. Bouville, PhD

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 20 February 2008. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.