Health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl accident
One of the greatest catastrophes that humanity remembers is the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It happened on April 26th, 1986, at a nuclear power plant officially called the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Nuclear Power Plant near the city of Pripyat in the USSR (present-day Ukraine). It is the most consequential ecological catastrophe in the history of nuclear energy. Nobody knows all of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, but we have approximate data.
Numerous measurement methods were used to evaluate the exposure of the population to radiation and environmental contamination of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. However, it was challenging to assess the validity of the measurement results.
The first reason is that different organizations have used their dosimeters without inter-calibration. Another reason is that it is significant the number of measured values was close to the detection limit. Moreover, the highest number of values in the reports is rounded.
The rough estimations said that there are about 150,000 square kilometers in the territory Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, contaminated with cesium activities above 1010 Bq.
The consequences on human health
The Chernobyl disaster caused the death of many people with severe health consequences. People, who suffered the most, were working at the Chernobyl power plant at the time, and especially with those involved in firefighting, reactor cleaning, and providing emergency medical care. They were directly exposed to radiation without most of them even knowing it. They died in severe agony from radiation poisoning.
The Chernobyl disaster caused health problems consequences that manifested later. There has been an increase in the number of people who had thyroid cancer and lived in contaminated regions of the Soviet Union.
The workers of the Chernobyl power plant can be divided into two groups: those who worked during the first night of the disaster (about 600 people) and those who worked on rebuilding the reactor between 1986 and 1990 (about 600,000 people).
The consequences for human health also arose from the consumption of contaminated food and water.
Research during and immediately after the accident indicated the contamination of workers in animal feed factories who have worked with highly contaminated raw materials.
These data should be borne in mind that these are high concentrations measured in food and nutrients. When estimating the effective dose, in addition to the organs, the biological half-life is taken into account, i.e., the time of elimination of radionuclides from the organism via urine, feces, etc.
The consequences on the environment
All of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident on the environment are in direct relation with the outcomes of human health.
During the accident, honey was a good bioindicator of radio contamination of the environment. Immediately after the accident, green vegetables, grass, and honey plants represented a significant way of introducing short-lived radionuclides into the body of animals and humans while long-lived radionuclides were deposited on the grass, forest plants, and pastures. Cereals are mostly contaminated at a later stage by the uptake of cesium and strontium from the soil.
There was so much radiation in the pine forest next to the power plant that the trees dried up immediately and almost all the animals. It was obvious that this area was absolutely inappropriate
for life and will remain dead for at least a few centuries (given the rate at which radioactive things decay and cease to be dangerous to the environment).
However, today, almost 40 years after the accident, the forbidden zone turned into a reservation. Bears live there now bison, wolves, lynxes, wild boars, horses, and many other animals and birds.
Ten years ago, scientists in the Red Forest, as they call it, installed 40 video cameras that respond to the movement of the living beings. After that, they started the census of forest dwellers.
Researchers were surprised to find that it was in the woods still high radiation, but that it has almost no negative impact on wildlife in Chernobyl.
Of course, there are some deviations. For example, albino is common found in birds, insects are shorter than outside the forest, and rodents have significantly fewer offspring. All of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident on the environment are significant. Still, these images are stunning. According to scientists, the animals were much more resistant to radiation than they were expected.
The consequences of the Chernobyl accident- Summary
The Chernobyl disaster was the biggest environmental catastrophe in the history of nuclear energy. Whatever the cause of the disaster is human error or reactor construction, it is caused long-term consequences. The data say that, from when nuclear power plants came into use, about 100 happened an accident on them. This shows that people are willing to sacrifice much because of the energy source.
A large amount of material was released in the explosion the materials settled as a powder, and the lighter ones were released into the atmosphere.
The most significant consequences of the Chernobyl accident for human health are radiation poisoning and fast death. I am sure that it will take a long time to discover all consequences of the Chernobyl accident. Among other consequences of the Chernobyl accident, we have thyroid cancer and other forms of cancer and cell mutations.