We interviewed children with diseases and/or disabilities and their parents from nine families in the Semipalatinsk Area from 2009 to 2013.
Whether their disabilities/diseases were officially certified or not, most parents pointed to the nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk Site as the cause of their children’s health problems. Reasons given by the parents for linking the children’s medical problems to Nuclear Tests were classified into three categories: The grandparents of the children had been exposed to radiation directly; the parents themselves grew up in a contaminated area; the area that they currently reside is contaminated and their children are being affected directly.
We also explored whether the sense of guilt felt by the parents was eased when their children’s ill health was officially certified as caused by nuclear tests. A detailed analysis of the survey responses revealed that these parents tend to blame themselves for their children’s ill health, regardless the circumstances, and were left thinking ‘if only there were no nuclear tests’. Exploring such layers of thought would shed light on the reality of adverse mental effects on the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site victims.