The topic I have chosen for this term paper is "Ex-Soviet Bloc\'s
Environmental Crisis, Issue C." #2 Upgrading nuclear reactors to meet
international standards. I have chosen this topic because nuclear power is not
only an environmental issue but also a severe health issue for the citizens
around the nuclear site and also for the rest of the country and world because
of food products that could be grown there and used as market items.
Nuclear radiation is in no way healthy to anyone. It is much more
easier to develop a life threatening disease if you are currently being effected
by the radiation or have already been effected. Becoming sick from high amounts
of radiation does not only happen to people in the immediate area of the nuclear
accident. Although these people are the most effected, they are by far not the
only ones. Radiation can be carried in many products, including food which is
the most common and easy way to become sick from radiation poisoning. Cattle in
the area of radiation may appear to be healthy but the milk they produce and the
meat they give should not be eaten. As you can see, radiation can very easily
be transferred from one point to another and ingested by someone without even
their knowledge that there is a problem. The government of the Soviet Union was
the owner of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. When there was a problem,
the government immediately sent soldiers to surround the plant and only two days
later did they evacuate the surrounding town of Pripyat, but by then it was
already much too late. The effects of radiation do not take a long time to occur.
In adults, it is severe but not a severe as it is in children. In children,
radiation sickness can and will effect the thyroid glands. This can lead to
many different kinds of cancer and most likely more than one will effect the
body at once.
In adults, the effects of radiation can be cancerous, but the real issue
is whether or not it will effect their DNA and thus effect the next generation.
This issue is highly debated. Scientists are not sure whether or not radiation
effects a persons DNA and causes mutations in the sperm and egg cells, later on
effecting their children and their generation. Before the nuclear reactor in
Chernobyl had a melt down, a joint US and Japanese research team set up in
Hiroshima to study the effects of radiation on the survivors of the A-bomb on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Forty years later, they had found no evidence that there
were any genetic problems in any of the survivors children. In contrast, Yuri E.
Dubrova of the University of Leicester in England and his colleagues claim that
they have found evidence that germline mutation rates in humans can be increased
by ionizing radiation. Dubrova\'s team compared specific gene segments taken from
the blood of people in 79 families that lived in a exposed area surrounding
Chernobyl. Also they studied 105 members from unexposed families in the United
Kingdom. All children in both groups were born 8 years after the melt down. “
The researchers studied gene segments known as minisatellite loci, repeating
patterns of roughly 5 to 45 bases, the units that make up DNA. No one knows the
genetic purpose, if any, of minisatellites, but their variation from person to
person enables scientists to use them as the basis of so-called genetic
fingerprinting”.(Dubrova )Because a child\'s DNA represents a combination of
germline DNA from both parents, any sequence in the child that does not have
either parents DNA in it, must result from a germline mutation. Dubrova\'s team
therefore looked for minisatelite sequences in the children\'s DNA that did not
appear in either of the parents DNA. They found twice the number of mutations
in children of exposed Belarus parents as in U.K. children. “We are 99 percent
sure that these are real germline mutations and they have been passed from
parent to child,”(Dubrova )
Other researchers, such as James Neel of the University of Michigan in
Ann Arbor, a 40 year veteran of the Hiroshima research, are not so sure. “I am
very doubtful that the findings of these investigations are due to the fallout
of the Chernobyl disaster”(Neel ). Neel objects that the “doses of radiation
given in their paper are very low, so their report implies a genetic sensitivity
far beyond that observed in experiments with fruit flies and mice and our own
observations in Japan.” (Neel ) Neel also noted that controls should have