International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme Extended EssayBiology Higher LevelResearch title:A comparison between the biological effects of radiation during the Chernobyl and Fukushima Nuclear disastersResearch question: What were the actual health consequences caused by the radiation released during Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents and how comparable are they?Subject: BiologySupervisor: Ms. SheaName: Gabriel Rodrigo Salinas TorrezTable of contents Acknowledgements……………………………………………………… i Hypothesis……………………………………………………………….ii????????INTRODUCTIONOver the years people have grown a certain fear of radiation as there have been several Nuclear disasters resulting in some health concerns. Two of the the most known Nuclear accidents are the Chernobyl disaster which occured in 1986 and the Fukushima one in the year of 2011 which I will go into detail about during this essay. First of all Radiation can be defined as energy that travels through space there are types of radiation which can cause damage to matter, particularly living tissue. This is why high levels of radiation are very dangerous, so to prevent this it is crucial to control the exposure. This were very serious cases and therefore people worried a lot about it which lead to a big fear of radiation regarding the health concerns. The are two main types of radiation, one being ionizing and the other one being non-ionizing radiation. Both of this radiation types can be harmful to any being and also harm the environment around us. There are numerous biological impacts of radiation in our body. Due to the fact that there are high (acute) and low (chronic) doses of radiation both of them have different effects in our body. Low doses can change cells which is one of the reasons why radiation is used as medicinal tool in many cases such as radiation therapy for cancer. However on the other hand high doses can be harmful to the body as it kills cells, resulting in tissue and organ damage. Nuclear weapons explosions is what we usually think of when we hear about high doses of radiation, but as we now know from experience there have been different cases in which people die from high exposure to radiation . A large amount of radiation is required (more than 75 rad) in a short amount of time in order to lead to effects of radiation sickness Some serious effects of radiation include skin burns, hair loss, sterility, cataracts.Unfortunately there are many negative effects as a results from exposure to radiation, this effects include skin problems such as burns, sterility and hair loss. When radiation affects the skin it could cause the skin to be dry and also have blisters. This kind of problems in the skin from radiation are usually caused by types of radiation that is not as strong meaning that the energy is low such as beta, x-ray and gamma radiation. Some groups of people that are relatively sensitive to exposure of radiation are pregnant women and children and this is because cell damage is is caused more in children and fetuses as the cells are able to split at a faster rate and therefore it is easier for radiation to ruin the process. Throughout this essay I will analyse and explain in detail based on research the exact impacts of both Nuclear accidents which I mentioned earlier and talk about the circumstances they were in and how they affected things including the health of individuals.Chernobyl Nuclear Accident The Chernobyl disaster which occured in April 26th 1986 is known as one of the most frightening environmental disasters in the world.This was probably one of the worst things that happened that was caused by radiation in history. Unfortunately during this case there was nothing around the building to stop the radiation from spreading and therefore there was a lot of radioactive material that that went to different countries which were morealess surrounding that specific area. Some parts that were affected as a result are Eastern Europe, the west of the Soviet Union, , some parts of the United Kingdom, and also a small portion of the United States. However the areas just mentioned were not impacted at a serious level. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were the ones most affected and seriously contaminated. In Belarus there was approximately 60 percent of the radiation fallout. As you could imagine there were thousands and thousands of people that had to evacuate as soon as they were informed about the accident, the number of people that had to leave their homes in order to live in areas that were not contaminated was 350,000 peopleThe accident happened due to the fact that the fourth reactor suffered a huge power increase. Because of this the core of the reactor proceeded to explode. There was a lot of radioactive material that was released into the atmosphere after this had happened making the air bad for the health. Things just got worse after that as there were things in the reactor which started to burn and this is what caused even more radioactive fuel to be released into the environment. Of course Safety was a huge concern for the all the countries that were affected but specifically for the Soviet Union and its nuclear power industry so for a while the nuclear industry stopped from expanding and functioning like they did beforeThe food in the areas affected contained radioactive iodine and because of this some individuals were affected by high doses of radiation especially in a part of the body called the thyroid gland . Cows were also affected when eating the contaminated grass, this led to children being particularly affected because they drank the cow milk and developed thyroid cancer. According to several epidemiological studies from green facts, including atomic bomb survivors, patients who are treated with radiotherapy and occupationally exposed populations in medicine and the nuclear industry, have shown that ionizing radiation can cause solid cancers and leukaemia. Some findings also indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in populations exposed at higher doses (e.g. atomic bombing survivors, radiotherapy patients).Most of the people who were affected have by the accident have actually not died yet. It will be extremely hard to say if those who were affected and die of cancer or related diseases would be because of the accident. A report that was made by IAEA in 2005 says that out of 56 direct deaths, 47 were workers at the plant and the other 9 were children who died of thyroid cancer which is something that I will talk about with depth later in the essay.. Also, according to the report approximately 4,000 people may die from long term diseases related to the accident. However Greenpeace, along with others, thinks that the study’s conclusions may not be true. ¹ “Chernobyl Nuclear Accident.” Green Facts , www.greenfacts.org/en/chernobyl/l-3/2-health-effects-chernobyl.htm.Fukushima Nuclear AccidentOn March 2011 one of the most severe earthquakes occured in Japan with a magnitude 0f 9.0. This of coursed huge damages in the region and once a large tsunami was made much more followed after that. Before all the damage was caused eleven reactors at four nuclear plants were working in the region but once the earthquake hit, they were instantly shut down automatically. The reactors however were somehow vulnerable to the tsunami. Many people tend to think that there were numerous deaths following the nuclear incident, however there were no direct deaths from it. Three Tepco employees at the Daiichi and Daini plants were killed directly by the earthquake and tsunami but not from the nuclear accident. Due to the tsunami in Chile on 1960 and assessments they had done, the original design basis tsunami height was 3.1 m for Daiichi so the plant had to be built about 10 metres above sea level and the pumps has to be about 4 meters above sea level. The Daini plant was built 13 metres above sea level. We can see here how from past catastrophic events such as Chile they decided to take different approaches in terms of how to built the plant which is one of the reason why the Fukushima accident was not as severe. It appeared that no serious damage was caused by the earthquake but once the first and second wave of tsunami hit the plant the pumps in the water in different areas of the Fukushima plant were submerged and damaged. The tsunamis also damaged and obstructed roads, which made it difficult to access the place from the outside. After all this happened they decided to declare a Nuclear Emergency, meaning that the Fukushima Prefecture ordered an immediate evacuation (not like in chernobyl) for people within 2 km of the plant. then the Prime Minister extended this to 3 km, and on 12th of March he extended it to 10 km. He then visited the plant once again which made him make the final decision of extending it to 20km in order to ensure complete safety for the people in the surrounding areas.Despite the fact that the people in Japan were not exposed to high doses of radiation like in Chernobyl there was still some low amounts of radioactive iodine which people were exposed to as soon as the emergency was declared. WHO (World health of Organization) carefully assessed the risk of thyroid cancer. The people who had the greatest probability of obtaining thyroid cancer were girl infants who were less than one year old in. Even if the level of probability was low and they couldn’t detect it , WHO predicted that the thyroid ultrasound screening programme being conducted in Fukushima prefecture was likely to lead to an increase in the incidence of thyroid diseases due to earlier detection of non-symptomatic cases.There have also been some reports about thyroid cancer cases being diagnosed in children exposed to low doses of radioactive iodine during the fukushima accident. However the interpretation of this reports have to be evaluated carefully as many factors need to be considered because there is the probability that someone who was exposed to this radiation is diagnosed with cancer now the radiation exposure itself could not be the direct cause of it. It can be said with insurance that there weren’t any individuals who received thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure in comparison to Chernobyl because the amount of doses were much lower than back then After years of the accident there have been cases of some people in Fukushima that are having some mental issues as well as psycho-social problems due to the fact that they needed to relocate.. Also PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) was diagnosed in some of the population of Japan. Children were the group of people who were affected the most with this type of symptoms The results and consequences of the two nuclear accidents were very different as both of them were dealt with in different ways and each of them were also under different circumstances. Therefore the biological impacts in the population were drastically different which is something that I will go into next.