Sunday, August 7, 2016

Chernobyl Radiation FAQs

It has been over three decades since the nuclear accident in Chernobyl with radioactive contamination devastating the area.  In the aftermath of the accident, over 200 people suffered from acute radiation sickness, ARS, of who according to the WHO in 2006, 28 dies in the first three months. Most of the victims were the rescue workers and firemen who arrived on the scene first. No other ARS-related deaths were reported in the general population affected by the disaster. More than 200 tons of uranium are still in the reactor site fueling fears that new leaks could occur in the area that is already considered unsafe for at least the next century.
The area has since been deemed a tourist site and opened up for tours by the public with no possible health risk.  Most tourists and the world, in general, have concerns regarding radiation and the dangers traveling to the Chernobyl area might pose. Here are a few of Chernobyl Radiation FAQs that might be of assistance to anyone looking to travel to the site of Ukraine’s most significant contribution to global history.
1.       Is Chernobyl Safe? This is possibly the most common Chernobyl radiation question. The levels of radiation, although higher than normal, are considered safe. You will be exposed to radiation no more than the one you would if undergoing an X-Ray.
2.       What levels of radiation were people exposed to? Average doses among recovery operations workers were 120 millisieverts. In more distant countries the doses of exposure progressively decreased in the subsequent years.
3.       What happened? An explosion and fires at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine caused the largest uncontrolled radioactive release in the history of the nuclear industry. Large amounts of radioactive and cesium were released into the air.
4.       What is the current health risk to residents of people residing in contaminated areas? Currently, the concentration of radioactive material in food products produced in areas affected by the accident is considerably below national and global standards. In these areas environmental remediation and countermeasures could still be warranted.
5.       Why did the radioactivity spread so far? The explosion and the following fire ejected radioactivity high in the atmosphere which was spread by the wind. The plume of radioactivity spread over the countries of Belarus, Ukraine, and the Russian Federation and to some extent the rest of Europe.
6.       Were there any mutations arising from the Chernobyl accident?  Yes.  Chernobyl mutations include the fact that some children were born with heart defects caused by genetic mutation from exposure to the radiation. Animals have also been reportedly born with mutations.

These are just a few of Chernobyl radiation FAQs. Ideally, the area around Chernobyl will not be considered safe for inhabitation for at least another century.  The reactor, although enclosed in a large concrete shelter which was hastily constructed in 1986, is leaking radiation in the environment raising concern all over Europe. However, a new safe confinement structure is to be completed in 2017 being built adjacent. 200 tons of highly radioactive material remains inside, and it poses an environmental hazard until it is properly contained.