Surveys investigated the perceived threat of radioactive fallout and public coping following a "silent disaster" (Chernobyl) across Europe. Survey data from national representative samples in 12 European countries are compiled, 6 months and 2 years after the accident, across 12 countries. Exposure to information about the accident, and perception of the consequences of Chernobyl as a health threat, were significantly related to the level of fallout in each country. Another significant relationship was found between the level of fallout in these 12 countries and the proportion of respondents who reported having taken countermeasures. Information challenges for the authorities are highlighted.