Radioactive contamination and health

Nuclear radiation

The nuclear danger

Even if you can say that the "atomic age" started on August 6, 1945, to the bomb that wiped out the Japanese city of kliroshima in a few seconds, the thing came from much earlier.

In 1896, the French Henri Becquerel discovered the existence of the natural radioactivity from uranium salts. In 1905, Einstein foresaw the fission of the Atom with colossal power output. And, in 1919, English Rutherford managed for the first time the artificial disintegration of the atom undergoing a bombardment of particles emitted by the radio.

In 1932, they began to build particle accelerators and neutron was discovered. And in 1939 was the discovery of fission, which allowed the release of atomic or nuclear energy.

Nuclear war

Although international treaties against the nuclear arms race have been signed, nor all countries have acceded to them, or all those who made meet as agreed. The constant feud between the India and the Pakistan accelerated the production of missiles with atomic charge, what justifies the fears expressed by the cardiologist and pacifist Bernard Lown, awarded honoris causa the Autonomous University of Barcelona, he warned that there is still the danger of life on our planet that is extinguished if a nuclear war is triggered.

In fact, according to a report by the British Medical Association (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London), after a nuclear war there would be a global catastrophe, "Atomic winter", in which billions of people would die of hunger. All cultivation would be impossible if, because of the waste thrown by nuclear explosions, only came to Earth half of the usual sunlight.

Nuclear power plants

The number of active nuclear power stations amounts to some 435. What to do with them? There are many environmentalists who have taken to the streets with the slogan "iNuclear, not!". But there are many more citizens ' not only they don't want to give up easy, secure, always available and relatively cheap electricity, but they also make a bad use of it, wasting it frivolously.

This is not one minor problem that is resolved by Decree, or saying yes or no to nuclear. It is essential that scientists report about the reality of all energy sources and actual costs should be paid according to each one of them, in order to form an energy awareness based on a serious work of information on citizens.

Nuclear pollution knows no frontiers

One of these costs is pollution. Of the nuclear accident occurred at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, its tragic consequences are increasingly evident: the cases of cancer, leukemia and genetic malformations have increased alarmingly. After the failure of reactor number 4 at the central, a radioactive cloud passed first over the region of Gomel, being the most affected. It then affected regions of Brest and Grodno, where the increase of cases has not been so marked. Radioactive contamination was extended to the North in the first week, but the wind changed direction at six days and isotopes toured 2,500 km, passing through several European countries. A low centered on the island of Sicily took part of the radioactive cloud to Catalonia, the Valencian country and the Balearic Islands, while other changes in the weather brought part of the cloud to Greece and Turkey. The fallout is deadly because it enters the food chain and there its effects are greatly amplified.

Effects of radiation according to the dose in the health

The radiation affects especially to the contents of the chromosomes or DNA molecules containing the genetic information. According to the SIU (System international United-des), this energy is measured in sieverts (1 Sv = 100 rems = 1 Joule/kg). Its effects on the human body vary depending on the dose received.

-2 Milisieverts to 1 Sv, its short term effects are barely noticeable. Long-term risk of occurring mutations (various types of cancer, leukaemia). In gravid women increase the risks of brain malformations in the fetus.

-From 1 to 3 Sv: light nausea and vomiting that occur between 6 and 24 hours exposure to radioactive.

-From 3 to 5 Sv: nausea and vomiting of moderate intensity. Reddening of the skin and hair loss in any part of the body. Destruction of the bone marrow, with disturbances in the blood (anemia and decrease in white blood cells). Symptoms last for two to three weeks. Hospitalization is necessary.

-From 5 to 10 Sv: continuous, even bloody vomiting and nausea. Also bloody diarrhea. Ulcers in the mouth. Burns to the skin and general hair loss. Only a bone marrow transplant can offer any hope of survival.

Insidious contamination

The scientist Vladimir de Semir said that it is no exaggeration to say that we live with the very serious threat that at any time explode in Europe a new radioactive "pump" as the Chernobyl. In fact, many of the plants in the former Eastern Europe are of the same type as the Chernobyl and in addition raise operating deficiencies that make them potentially dangerous.

But radioactivity, which is insidious because it is not, has no color, odor or taste, and whose effects may take many years to manifest, not applicable just war or accidental explosions, but residues derived, directly or indirectly, from nuclear reactions. As an example, just remember the accidental incineration in Algeciras, a device that contained radioactive cesium, caused a radioactive cloud which, after crossing the Peninsula, was registered in France, Italy and Switzerland.

The desirable dismantling of Atomic missiles as the Central nuclear are cause of problems and risks. Some European countries have tried to get rid of their atomic waste turning it in barrels to underdeveloped African countries, with the consequent scandal when the manoeuvre has been discovered. Others have chosen to sink into the sea. Since 1967, eight European countries have dipped nearly 100,000 tons of waste of low and medium reactivity in a mass grave marina of 4,000 metres to 800 kilometres of the Galician coast. The Russians, on the other hand, always defended that not should be disposed radioactive material either at sea, nor in the earth when there is the risk of radiation to penetrate to the groundwater. They proposed the storage tanks or tanks of reinforced concrete. However, radiation generates heat and may cause boiling States that, in certain cases, will persist for years hundred tanks.

Great experience in the techniques of drilling for oil and gas, advised to resort to a set of deep drilling (of about 2,500 m) in whose wells cylinders of radioactive waste is directly descended. It is a safe solution?

Responsibility for the future

Get rid of nuclear waste could be a solution to the present, but it involves a serious responsibility to future generations. Anyone who is the method adopted must take into account its risks. These may be of two classes:

1 Catastrophic events, as major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal wave (tsunami) fall of large meteorites, etc.

2. Slow degradation of the geological formations, erosion, infiltration of water, etc. A very detailed and deep investigation of the place chosen, since the geological parameters such as training importance is undeniable, physical properties and chemical, water currents, and so on, therefore, will need to ensure that radioactive substances can again to exit the biosphere.

This research will require years and money, without that it can accept that preponderen the economic criteria. Hence that it is true that, as it has been said, is more costly to bury alive than dead Pharaohs atoms.

The pollution of the waters of the oceans

From food from the ocean are also subjected to radioactive contamination. Plants and marine animals extract and concentrate different radioactive elements that penetrate into the sea the concentration is cumulative, increasing as follows its course, from the microscesico to the edible fish plankton.The pollution of the waters of the oceans

From food from the ocean are also subjected to radioactive contamination. Plants and marine animals extract and concentrate different radioactive elements that penetrate into the sea the concentration is cumulative, increasing as follows its course, from the microscesico to the edible fish plankton.

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