25 Surprising Effects Of The Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown On The Environment

Posted by , Updated on May 14, 2015

We all know that radiation is usually pretty bad for us, but did you know that its consequences can be felt for decades? These are 25 surprising effects of the chernobyl nuclear meltdown on the environment.

25

Plants and animals within a 50km (30 mile) radius were affected by the fallout radiation

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Generally speaking, the closer you got to the destroyed reactor, rates of mortality began to rise and rates of reproduction dipped

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Even today, almost 30 years later, some of the initial effects of radiation are still felt and various genetic anomalies are still being documented

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Fortunately, most of these acute effects were contained within the 50km radius

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Lakes and rivers surrounding the disaster zone were also filled with harmful radiation

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As we said, some radiation actually did escape the exclusion zone. One way this happened was via the aquatic food chain as radiation was measured in fish as far as Germany and Scandinavia

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Thanks to relatively rapid radioactive decay the effects of this more distant aquatic radiation quickly decreased and it never posed a significant threat to humans

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What did have detrimental effects, however, was the accumulation of radiation in forests, particularly in berries and fruits

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This lead to the contamination of dependent animal species such as deer

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In fact, the indigenous Sami people of Finland have even been affected as a result of contaminated deer meat

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Going back to the exclusion zone, it is still unknown whether the currently observed genetic anomalies will have any long lasting detrimental effects

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Paradoxically, due to the fact that human activity in the region decreased, animal and plant species actually began to thrive

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According to recent findings they have still not recovered, however, and radiation levels of almost all species within the exclusion zone is elevated

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12

Cut trees show a noticeably darker color in their rings following the 1986 disaster

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Some insects have been observed to exhibit strange color patterns that correlate to regions of higher radiation

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Scientists have also noted that spiderwebs may contain some deviation in their patterns

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Radioactive particles sinking deeper into the soil had an effect on agriculture

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Subsistence farmers and poorer residents in surrounding rural localities suffered the most extreme effect to their crops and livestock

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Even today, milk in certain regions still shows traces of contamination and most likely will for several more decades

chernobylhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/lfl/2132323232/
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Insects were not the only animals to experience discolorations. Barn swallows in the affected region developed strange white spots on their plummage.

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Studies of the Fukushima disaster in Japan have provided more insight into what the immediate effects of the disaster may have looked like. Some species of monkey actually showed declined levels of hemoglobin in their blood

Monkey4Ngarai Sianok sumatran monkey. (Image for representation only, not an actual, low leveled hemoglobin monkey.)
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More recent studies of Chernobyl have showed that animals populations extremely close to the source of radiation exhibit more frequent deformities such as stunted limbs

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Studies have shown invertebrate populations in the top layer of soil surrounding the disaster to be lower than normal.

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Interestingly enough, scientists have found evidence that plants and animals are actually adapting to the increased levels of radiation

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Fortunately, the vast majority of radionuclides that were released during the explosion had very short half lives and so they decayed quickly. Most of the current environmental effects are the biological result of the initial doses.

chernobylhttp://blazingfires13.deviantart.com/art/Radioactive-sign-brick-manip-1-368550062

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