Nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl in 1986 and in Japan in 2011, have prompted several health concerns from the public. We shouldn’t overlook the effects of nuclear disasters on human health and on the environment. Even the smallest amount of radiation from nuclear waste or radioactive materials are fatal for humans.
This brings us to the question, how do nuclear disasters affect us and our planet?
Effects on Health
Nuclear disasters are extremely dangerous. There’s more to the fires and explosions they cause. The radioactive materials that they release are responsible for most of the deaths. When exposed to these materials, humans can get sick and even die if not properly treated. Overexposure to radiation can immediately cause acute radiation syndrome. Depending on the amount of exposure, you may suffer from skin rashes, extensive vomiting, coma, and worse, immediate death.
Radiation can also damage our DNA. Our tissues that contain dividing cells such as the ones found on our skin and bone marrow are at risk and can lead to cancer. High doses of radiation can also damage our brain cells and lead to death.
People who come in contact with a lesser amount of radiation have higher chances of living. However, total treatment will still not be possible. Radiation has a way of disrupting the fluid balance in our body which can lead to blood infection. You’ll be kept alive long enough as long as your body is still able to fight off infection because of radiation.
As of now, scientists and experts are finding new treatments that aim to limit cell death because of radiation.
Effects on the Environment
Only a couple of studies and research were launched to analyze the environmental effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. This is due to the delays in accessing the radioactive area. For more than 25 years, total the ecosystem in the surrounding area is in complete devastation.
A 10-square kilometer worth of land filled with pine trees changed its color to orange. Fauna and flora around the area are also affected by the radioactive fallout after the disaster. The population of several species of insects, mice, and moles are reduced. Although there were some insect species who were able to bounce back. This is probably due to the migration into the area.
For many years after the Chernobyl disaster, various animal species are suffering from different kinds of negative effects due to radiation. But looking at it now, the Chernobyl area has become a refuge for wildlife with some animals returning to the area and increase their population even though it is still not safe for humans.
Thanks to the difficulties presented after the Chernobyl disaster, scientists and experts were able to conduct a lot of studies and research on the biological and ecological effects of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident. It took only a couple of months for them to gather data on the environmental effects of the nuclear disaster. These studies will aim to improve our understanding about the negative effects of nuclear disaster.
Our understanding of the negative effects of nuclear disasters is still developing. Hopefully, over the next couple of years, we are now able to fight off the negative effects of radioactive material especially on human health. This will also enable us to develop new ways on how to prevent nuclear disasters from happening again. Countries are now finding developing new and safer methods of harnessing this power. By doing so, we can hope that there will be no nuclear disasters in the future.