Nuclear Disasters and the Aftermath

by Rosaline Campbell on March 28, 2014


High levels of radiation in our environment can be a constant concern for public health officials, especially after the large scale nuclear disasters, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.  Disasters like these release large amount of radiation into the air and in the case of Fukushima into the water too.  Questions arise like how should we prevent disasters like these and if this happens how will it affect our health.  High levels of radiation have adverse effects on our health, so if and when a disaster like this occurs it is imperative for health officials to handle it in a proper way that limits the effects of the radiation on the residents of the area around the radiation.

Health effects that come from high levels of radiation exposure can vary from damaging to fatal, depending on the amount of radiation one encounters.  High rates of thyroid cancer are also frequently encountered in areas that were exposed to high levels of radiation. This was seen after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.  Radiation sickness can also come from high levels of radiation exposure.  The severity of radiation sickness depends on how much exposure ones had to the radiation.  Some symptoms of radiation sickness include vomiting, fever, and diarrhea, with their severity depending on the amount of radiation they are exposed to.  The adverse effects radiation has after a nuclear disaster is not only limited to human health, but also effects the environment in a negative way.

High levels of radiation in the environment not only have effects on health, but also effects on way of life.  An example of this is both in the two nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima.  In both of theses cases many residents were forced to evacuate the area were high levels of radiation occurred.  Initially in Fukushima a 3km evacuation area was established, but after looking more into the possible harmful effects of the radiation a 20km evacuation area was established.  The effects nuclear disasters like these have on living are not resolved immediately.  In Fukushima the government established three areas that determine the livability of it after the nuclear disaster.  These areas range from livable to not livable for a long time to not livable at all.  People who were previously residing in the not livable areas and not livable for a long time have had their lives uprooted by the nuclear disaster and are not able to return home.  The same situation was present during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, with residents not being able to return home.  The radiation in these areas was determined not fit to live or at a constant level higher than 20mSv.

Radiation affects public health, especially in disasters such as Fukushima and Chernobyl.  Prevention of these events and proper procedures following them help to reduce the risk and damages of high radiation exposure.  Precautions taken after Fukushima that limits the amount of exposure to radiation included the relocation of many that lived too close to the plant.  Although caused for different reasons, Chernobyl for operator and design flaws and Fukushima for a natural disaster, the emission of radiation into the environment and the ocean in the case of Fukushima had several adverse health effects that not only effected the people that lived in the area of the disaster, but the environment around it also.



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