Radioactive pollution is caused during the testing of nuclear weapons, the establishment of nuclear plants, and the mining and refining of radioactive substances such as uranium and thorium. The Main Effects of Radioactive Pollution are
Effects of Radioactive Pollution on the Environment
- Radioactive pollution affects our environment. The radioactive wastes cannot be destroyed, and hence, they remain in our environment for a longer period of time. They can lead to the discolouring of trees in the forests. After the Chernobyl nuclear accident, a pine forest cover near the power plant turned reddish-brown.
- The underground disposal of radioactive wastes may contaminate the drinking water which may be harmful to plants, animals, and humans.
Effects of Radioactive Pollution on Human Health
- Radiations are extremely dangerous for human health as they produce harmful changes in the body cells and affect genes.
- When people are exposed to radiation, their offspring may also be affected, and thus, mutations may be transmitted to future generations. These are known as genetic variations.
- Exposure to radioactive pollution may cause damage to body organs. It may result in lung cancer, brain cancer, thyroid cancer, sterility, and reduced or defective eyesight.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
- Bhopal gas tragedy took place on December 2, 1984 at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The tragedy took place due to the leaking of methyl-isocyanite (MIC) a highly poisonous gas from the Union Carbide Plant. As a result of the incident, about 3,500 people were reported to be killed and about 40,000 people were affected in an area of 100 sq km.
- According to various reports, the incident occurred when water entered into the storage tanks of MIC causing an increase in temperature because of which liquid MIC turned into a gas. Earlier, many complaints were made by the workers about the frequent leakage of other toxic substances in the plant, but no steps were taken to install safety mechanisms.
- It is thus now accepted world wide that the Bhopal Gas Tragedy was caused due to the ignorance of safety measures in the Union Carbide Plant to cut costs. Most of the people who were exposed to the lethal gas belonged to poor working class families. While thousands of people died, many suffered from respiratory diseases, eye problems and many other disorders.
- After the accident, the Indian Council of Medical research revealed that the exposure to the gas caused the damage to the brain, kidney, lungs and muscles. It also affected the reproductive ability of men and women.
Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
- This nuclear disaster took place in Chernobyl in Ukraine, a part of former Soviet Russia. The accident occurred on 26 April 1986 when a nuclear reactor at the nuclear power complex at Chernobyl exploded. This resulted in the release of many radioactive gases into the air and breaking out of fires at several nearby places.
- This accident is termed a disaster as thousands of people were exposed to the gas. About 64 died because of expose to the radiation. Others who were exposed to the radiation were later diagnosed with diseases which were also transferred to their offspring.
- Such was the intensity of the accident that four square kilometres of pine forests in the nearby area became reddish brown and was named ‘Red Forests’. Many animals also died in the accident. The growth of many animals was also stunted.
- Radioactive gases formed clouds which spread over Poland, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Finland, Italy and France. Water bodies and soil in these European regions are still believed to be contaminated.
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