Chernobyl mutations and radiation effects of the disaster
Is Chernobyl safe or is still radioactive?
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant became the dreaded site where a nuclear disaster took place in 1986. The entire area was evacuated and the government had set a 30km exclusion zone. The exclusion zone was the cordoned off area where limits were put in for human interaction. No person could cross the exclusion zone without state permission. Decades have passed to the explosion but the exclusion zone and strict rules are followed for protection of locals and tourist visiting the site. They are checked for special clothing and guided to proper routes of where to go and where not to go.
As time passes the intensity of radiation and its waves lessens. The only place which is active in terms of radiation is the reactor no.4’s protective shelter known as the sarcophagus. The decontamination process which commenced after the accident has been able to clean most of the radiation particles and waves from the atmosphere. Now a person touring Chernobyl receives a dosage of less than 40 μSv, which is the dosage equal of a normal 5 hour 30 mins’ flight.
Touring agencies are still recommended to follow the route assigned and marked by the government of Ukraine as places with heavy reading on the Geiger counters are still a no go area. To date Chernobyl is considered one of the worst nuclear disasters in the history of the world because of the fact that the damage to human life was immense.
Short term health effects of Chernobyl?
Immediately after the Chernobyl accident, around 200 individuals were hospitalized. 30 of them were power plant workers and the rest were firefighters and paramedics. Approximately 28 power plant workers died within a matter of weeks of the accident due to high dosage of radiation. The majority were not completely mindful of how hazardous the radiation presentation from the smoke was. 300,000 individuals were emptied from the region, including 50,000 from the close-by town of Pripyat.
The impact of the explosion was so severe that workers at a nuclear plant 1100km away in Sweden contracted radiation particles on their safety gear. The increase radiation emissions spiked the chances of thyroid glands cancer and respiratory congestion because of the inhaling of contaminated air, in the region of Chernobyl and adjoining cities. The exact figures of people affected by diseases could not be determined because the impact was far reaching but on estimate 24,000 children and over 50,000 adults were diagnosed with some form of cancer.
In countries like Italy, the consumption of mushrooms was immediately halted because the plant has a tendency of attracting radiation particles. But in France for instance, there was no stopping in consuming any food. This step could have resulted in more people being affected but the exact figures could not be known. Several studies and researches have been conducted by World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations (UN) to determine the causes and consequences of the Chernobyl disaster but to date no one has been able to quote any figure. Locals believe the death tolled over 100,000 but that is just a myth.
Long term health effects of Chernobyl?
The construction of sarcophagus commenced in June 1986, more than one month after the disaster and was completed in Nov 1986. The entire period the construction took, the radiations went viral. The entire Wormwood Forest behind the power plant of turned red and every tree died in a matter of days because of the magnitude with which the radiation spread. Now known as the Red Forest, it is said that no tree would grow to its full length there for another century. Though the effects of radiation have since decreased, according to health expert, people would continue to suffer from the ill-effects of Chernobyl disaster for 70 years. Ill-effects mainly mean symptoms of respiratory problems, cancer and deformities.
What are genetic mutations?
Genetic mutation is when the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) sequence of a human body is permanently damaged. This results in children being born with defects such as over or under growth of organs and body parts. Over growth for example would mean extra fingers in the hand or feet and undergrowth would mean having a partially structured body parts. DNA misbalance can also cause newborns to suffer from Down syndrome and psychological disorder. Usually a region affected by a disaster such as a nuclear one can cause widespread genetic mutation. This mutation can go on for years until the DNA recovers or the people giving birth to such children decide to stop reproducing. Governments have to intervene to stop further mortalities or production of deformed babies.
Mutations in Humans and Animal post-Chernobyl?
After the Chernobyl disaster, the rate of children born with defects rose by 200% in the region of Ukraine, Belarus and present day Russia. Belarus was the worst affected because it was closer to Chernobyl. Due to inadequate measures taken by the Soviet Union after the disaster, genetic mutation and child defects continued to persist and increase.
Animals in Chernobyl and adjoining areas died in weeks after the disaster and the ones that left started to give birth to deformed babies. The Soviets strictly prohibited any slaughtering and eating of animals in the aftermath because the animals were said to contain traces of radiation particles. Besides any food consumed in Chernobyl to this date is bought from the outside. It is made, sealed and delivered from outside the exclusion zone into the region. Plants and animals are still unsafe to be consumed. An estimated 50 km area in the diameter of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant does not have any living animals on the ground. Though recently birds have been seen to flock in and out of the reactor no.4’s sarcophagus giving an indication that it might be finally safe for living things now.
After the Chernobyl disaster, plants in the region started to decay and there was no growth in their seeds till date. An entire forest of Wormwood disappeared because of the radiation and completely destroyed any cultivation in the region. Berries and mushrooms are strictly not allowed to be sold or eaten because they tend to contain radiation particles for years.
Visit Chernobyl zone yourself!And You will see:
Pripyat Ghost TownPripyat ghost town is 1 of 7 scariest places around the world
Radar system Duga-1Radar Duga-1 was secret radiolocation station in USSR
And many more exciting places with Chernobyl tours