The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear reactor accident that took place on Apr 26, 1986, in Ukraine. One of the causes of this accident was flawed design of control rods. The accident was also caused by the large positive void coefficient that the nuclear reactor had (Seh, 2015).
The Chernobyl disaster contamination had a wide scope. In the urban areas, open surfaces were the most polluted. The city nearest to the nuclear reactor, Pripyat, had its inhabitants emigrated to reduce the exposure to radioactive substances. It also led to pollution of sewage and sludge systems. Apart from urban contamination, this nuclear accident polluted agricultural areas and forests. Because of agricultural contamination, radiocaesium is currently present in animal and plant products in the affected areas. Additionally, radiocaesium contaminated fauna and flora in nearby forests (World Health Organization, 2005).
(a) Some of the chemical damages associated with Chernobyl disaster include the death of the workers as a result of high levels of radiations. Exposure to radiations has also led to carcinogenic effects.
(b) Some of the most severe physical damages linked to Chernobyl accident include cataracts, reproductive loss, shortened lifespan, and leukemia and malignant tumors (Chernousenko, Hine, & Salmycin, 1991).
(c) As a result of radiation, the trees in the forests surrounding the nuclear plant were killed due to high radiation levels. The dead trees developed a bright ginger color. It also led to the death of mammals and soil invertebrates as well as infertility in fauna and flora.
(d) Chernobyl disaster has been associated with so many health effects in human beings. First, this accident has been linked to thyroid cancer. Among individuals who were young children and adolescents when the accident took place, there is a higher prevalence in incidences of thyroid cancer. Most of the affected individuals lived in the highly contaminated parts of Chernobyl, such areas of Belarus. The high rates of thyroid cancer have been reported to have developed as a result of high concentration of radioactive iodine given out by the rector after the disaster. The radioactive iodine-contaminated the pastures, which was eaten by cows. When the cows grazed, accumulation of radioactive iodine in the milk occurred. Inadequate iodine further worsened the problem in the local diet which made radioactive thyroid to accumulate in the thyroid. In Belarus, about 5000 of individuals with cancer have been found to be children at the time of the nuclear disaster (World Health Organization, 2006).
Apart from thyroid cancer, Chernobyl disaster has also been linked to the current high cases of leukemia and non-thyroid solid cancer which develops because of the presence of ionizing radiation. An increased risk of these cancers was first reported among survivors of Japan atomic bombings few years after exposure to the radiations. Specifically, the cases of leukemia doubled as a result of Chernobyl disaster (World Health Organization, 2006).
Chernobyl disaster had environmental impacts. Following the disaster, there was radionuclides contamination of over 77,220 square miles of Europe. Additionally, the nuclear accident resulted in the deposition of plutonium and strontium isotopes within 100 miles of the damaged nuclear reactor. Strontium, plutonium, and americium deposits are expected to persist for several years in the affected areas (World Health Organization, 2005).
Some of the environmental measures and actions to minimize radiations include removal of contaminated grasses from animal feeds and continuous monitoring of radiation levels in milk. Additionally, the use of Cs-binders to prevent the transfer of radioactive isotopes from fodder to milk has resulted in substantial declines in agricultural contamination. Other measures include restricting access to areas where contamination is high, such as forests, and restriction of hunting and harvesting of foods in highly contaminated areas (World Health Organization 2005). These measures have resulted in decreased effects of radiations in individuals living near the plant.
Chernousenko, V. M., Hine, J. G., & Salmycin, A. I. (1991). Chernobyl: insight from the inside. Berlin: Springer.
Seh, Z. W. (2015). Causes of the Chernobyl accident. Retrieved from http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2015/ph241/seh1/World Health Organization (2005). Chernobyl: the true scale of the accident. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index1.html
World Health Organization (2006). Health effects of the Chernobyl accident: an overview. (2006). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/chernobyl/backgrounder/en/
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