Chernobyl Radiation Harming Animals

A recent study by Anders Moller and Timothy Mousseau published in the latest issue of Royal Society Biology Letters indicates continuous exposure to low doses of radiation has been harmful to animals living in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.  Mousseau is the directory of the Chernobyl Research Initiative at the University of South Carolina.

The report, titled “Reduced abundance of insects and spiders to radiation at Chernobyl 20 years after the accident,” determined that insect, bird and other animal populations have dramatically diminished since the April 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

The three year study included population censuses of invertebrates at more than 700 sites near Chernobyl. At each site, researchers measured radiation levels and counted bumblebees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spider webs.

The insect study was inspired by prior work with birds, when researchers noticed a decline in grasshopper populations and lowered fruit production.

The current study is also analyzing wolf, fox, rabbit, squirrel and other animal populations. Scientists are not ready to release findings about these animals, but the insect study and previous bird surveys indicate that many species are either absent or in very low numbers in the Chernobyl region.

The downward population trend appears to be due to:

  • Accumulation of radiation in some species over many generations through ingestion of contaminated dirt, water and food
  • As one animal or insect population declines, another might take its place. This new “replacement” species may also become contaminated, thus reducing its later survival rates.
These recent studies suggest that as a result of the above processes, the Chernobyl ecosystem has never fully recovered and remains in distress. Further, these studies have identified mutations in many different species of birds, plants, animals and humans.

Photo: T. Mousseau

2 Comments

The events at Chernobyl that continue to unfold are alarming and sadly relatively unknown. Just last year for example, I had no idea that it had ever happened, and now I come to find out that the massive amounts of radiation are still having negative impacts upon the surrounding environment and wildlife. This is an extremely important study, for it gives us a window into the possible long term side effects of long term radiation exposure. It is important that we as a species not forget what happened at Chernobyl or downplay the disaster in anyway. Thank you for this important blog!

It's 2011 and now most of the world is witnessing yet another
nuclear disaster;this time in Japan.Although this incident is an after-effect from the strongest earthquake I believe they have ever experienced, and one of the five largest ever recorded globally, not to mention the tsunami that struck less than a few hours later;another devastating blow like a backlash that has left so far, a death toll that can only be estimated because thousands are still unaccounted for.... and what are we hearing now ???; only unconfirmed and conflicting
stories from all the media outlets!!!! Why is it that in every country that has experienced a nuclear power plant blunder goes into delusional denial it seems.I speak of the Governments and their so called "experts", not the innocent citizens and more so, the victims that are often scuttled about and relocated into makeshift camps or left out in the streets going mad because everything in their world has been turned upside down!!!! Time after time we have seen the same types of newsreel footage and sound bites and nothing really seems to change.It's shameful and sickening to see that what it all boils down to is no matter how good an idea or plan that gets developed;whether it's to improve our quality of life or just to make things more convenient, nothing the human race has come up with, regardless of how noble and pure the intentions are, we always end up letting ourselves screw it up.
I heard someone say once,(or I read it somewhere) that humanoids are the parasites of this planet.It's so pathetic but true, we devour or destroy everything we come into contact with in some way or another.
The larger groups seem to have the smallest voices and for some reason we have allowed those whom we trust to manipulate and take advantage of us-there is no such thing as true leadership which is the embodiment of character,integrity and values.It has become a world of corporate greed and corruption.A small but powerful group who would screw over anyone for a percentage. God help us.