Nav: Home

Radiation causes blindness in wild animals in Chernobyl

February 10, 2016

This year marks 30 years since the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Vast amounts of radioactive particles spread over large areas in Europe. These particles, mostly Cesium-137, cause a low but long-term exposure to ionizing radiation in animals and plants.

This chronic exposure has been shown to decrease the abundances of many animal species both after the Chernobyl and later Fukushima nuclear accidents. Damage caused by acute exposure to high radiation doses have been demonstrated in numerous laboratory studies, but effects of chronic exposure to low radiation in the wild remain largely unknown.

New research now suggests that chronic exposure to low radiation can cause damage to the eyes of wild animals. This is shown in an international study led by researchers Philipp Lehmann and Tapio Mappes from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, which recently was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

In the study higher frequencies of cataracts were found in the lenses of bank voles which had lived in areas where background radiation levels were elevated compared to areas with natural radiation levels. Cataract frequency increased with age in the voles, similarly as in humans generally. In addition, the effects of aging intensified as a result of elevated radiation.

Interestingly the effect of radiation was significant only in female voles. Also in humans there are indications for high radiosensitivity of lenses. Persons with occupational exposure to radiation, such as radiology nurses, nuclear power plant workers and airline pilots have increased risk of cataract, but potential gender differences in radiosensitivity should be further studied.

Reasons for the gender differences in wild mammals are still largely hypothetical. However, the present study suggests that increased cataract risk may be associated with reproduction, as female bank voles who had severe cataracts received fewer offspring. Whether poorer reproductive success was caused by cataracts or by radiation is still unclear, and will require further experimental studies.

Nevertheless these new results support observations of negative consequences of chronic exposure to low radiation on wild animals and whole ecosystems. Studying effects of chronic exposure to low radiation in natural ecosystems is highly important, as it will help to prepare for new nuclear accidents and predict their consequences, which can entail widespread effects that can persist for hundreds of years in nature.
The study was funded by the Academy of Finland.

Publication information:

Lehmann P, Boraty?ski Z, Mappes T, Mousseau TA, Møller AP (2016) Fitness costs of increased cataract frequency and cumulative radiation dose in natural mammalian populations from Chernobyl. Scientific Reports, 6, 19974. DOI: 10.1038 / srep19974

More information:

Tapio Mappes, puh. +358405860978,

Philipp Lehmann, +468164089,

Academy of Finland

Related Radiation Articles:

Cloudy with a chance of radiation: NASA studies simulated radiation
NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) is simulating space radiation on Earth following upgrades to the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Visualizing nuclear radiation
Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan.
Measuring radiation damage on the fly
Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have found a new way to measure radiation damage in materials, quickly, cheaply and continuously, using transient grating spectroscopy.
Radiation that knocks electrons out and down, one after another
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University are investigating novel ways by which electrons are knocked out of matter.
Novel advancements in radiation tolerance of HEMTs
When it comes to putting technology in space, size and mass are prime considerations.
Radiation-guided nanoparticles zero in on metastatic cancer
Zap a tumor with radiation to trigger expression of a molecule, then attack that molecule with a drug-loaded nanoparticle.
Graphene is both transparent and opaque to radiation
A microchip that filters out unwanted radiation with the help of graphene has been developed by scientists from the EPFL and tested by researchers of the University of Geneva (UNIGE).
Radiation causes blindness in wild animals in Chernobyl
This year marks 30 years since the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
No proof that radiation from X rays and CT scans causes cancer
The widespread belief that radiation from X rays, CT scans and other medical imaging can cause cancer is based on an unproven, decades-old theoretical model, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Some radiation okay for expectant mother and fetus
During pregnancy, approximately 5 to 8 percent of women sustain traumatic injuries, including fractures and muscle tears.

Related Radiation Reading:

Radiation: What It Is, What You Need to Know
by Robert Peter Gale (Author), Eric Lax (Author)

The universe was born in a nuclear explosion. We live on a radioactive planet. Without radiation there would be not life. And yet radiation remains deeply misunderstood and often mistakenly feared. Now Dr. Robert Peter Gale—one of the world’s leading experts on the subject—and Eric Lax set the record straight about subjects like uranium, plutonium, iodine-131, X-Rays, CT scans, and the radiation of food, while lucidly debunking myths about radioactivity. In this fascinating book, the authors explore the science, benefits, and risks of radiation exposure, drawing on the most... View Details

Radiation Nation: Fallout of Modern Technology - Your Complete Guide to EMF Protection & Safety: The Proven Health Risks of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) & What to Do Protect Yourself & Family
by Daniel T. DeBaun (Author), Ryan DeBaun (Author), Dave Asprey (Foreword)

An Invisible Danger on the Rise

You eat organic and non-GMO food. You only drink purified water. You take care of yourself and your family's health. But could there be a silent, invisible danger causing potential harm to you and your loved ones? There could. And it's called electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation and it's one of fastest growing health issues facing our society. EMF radiation produced by modern technology such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, Wi-Fi, and smart meters is an emerging health threat, and we are all guinea pigs in a giant experiment with many unknown... View Details

Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation
by Timothy J. Jorgensen (Author)

More than ever before, radiation is a part of our modern daily lives. We own radiation-emitting phones, regularly get diagnostic x-rays, such as mammograms, and submit to full-body security scans at airports. We worry and debate about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the safety of nuclear power plants. But how much do we really know about radiation? And what are its actual dangers? An accessible blend of narrative history and science, Strange Glow describes mankind's extraordinary, thorny relationship with radiation, including the hard-won lessons of how radiation helps and... View Details

U.S. Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological And Chemical Survival Manual
by Dick Couch (Author)

Military experts teach you how to survive an attack on American soil, from North Korean missiles to weaponized smallpox

North Korean nukes. Dirty bombs in train stations. Chemical warfare. Americans have more reasons than ever to be afraid. If a nuclear missile strikes, will you know what to do? If a nerve agent is released in your subway system or office building, will you be safe? The U.S. Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Survival Manual gives you the information you need to survive a terrorist attack. It contains the best practices of all the United... View Details

Essentials of Clinical Radiation Oncology
by Matthew C. Ward MD (Editor), Rahul D. Tendulkar MD (Editor), Gregory Videtic MD CM FRCPC (Editor)

Essentials of Clinical Radiation Oncology is a comprehensive, user-friendly clinical review that summarizes up-to-date cancer care in an easy-to-read format. Each chapter is structured for straightforward navigability and information retention beginning with a “quick-hit” summary that contains an overview of each disease, its natural history, and general treatment options. Following each "quick-hit" are high-yield summaries covering epidemiology, risk factors, anatomy, pathology, genetics, screening, clinical presentation, workup, prognostic factors, staging, treatment... View Details

Radiation Detection and Measurement
by Glenn F. Knoll (Author)

This is the resource that engineers turn to in the study of radiation detection. The fourth edition takes into account the technical developments that continue to enhance the instruments and techniques available for the detection and spectroscopy of ionizing radiation. New coverage is presented on ROC curves, micropattern gas detectors, new sensors for scintillation light, and the excess noise factor. Revised discussions are also included on TLDs and cryogenic spectrometers, radiation backgrounds, and the VME standard. Engineers will gain a strong understanding of the field with this updated... View Details

Workbook for Radiation Protection in Medical Radiography, 7e
by Mary Alice Statkiewicz Sherer AS RT(R) FASRT (Author), Paula J. Visconti PhD DABR (Author), E. Russell Ritenour PhD DABR FAAPM FACR (Author)

With this workbook, you’ll enhance your understanding of the material in Radiation Protection in Medical Radiography, 6th Edition. Author Mary Alice Statkiewicz Sherer uses the same clear, accessible approach as in the textbook, taking difficult topics and making them easier for you to learn and apply. Matching the chapters in the text, this workbook ensures that you understand radiation physics and radiation protection and are ready to apply your knowledge in the practice setting.

"...It is well written and easy to comprehend". Reviewed by: Kirsten Farrell,... View Details

Mosby’s Radiation Therapy Study Guide and Exam Review (Print w/Access Code), 1e
by Leia Levy MAdEd(Masters in Adult Education) RT(T) (Author)

Reinforce your understanding of radiation therapy and prepare for the Registry exam! Mosby's Radiation Therapy Study Guide and Exam Review is both a study companion for Principles and Practice of Radiation Therapy, by Charles Washington and Dennis Leaver, and a superior review for the certification exam offered by the American Registry for Radiologic Technology (ARRT). An easy-to-read format simplifies study by presenting information in concise bullets and tables. Over 1,000 review questions are included in the book, with an additional 1,000 questions available online on... View Details

Radiation Protection in Medical Radiography, 7e
by Mary Alice Statkiewicz Sherer AS RT(R) FASRT (Author), Paula J. Visconti PhD DABR (Author), E. Russell Ritenour PhD DABR FAAPM FACR (Author), Kelli Haynes MSRS RT(R) (Author)

Sherer’s Radiation Protection in Medical Radiography provides vital information on radiation protection and biology in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand manner. Building from basic to more complex concepts, this book also presents radiation physics, cell structure, effects of radiation on humans at the cellular and systemic levels, regulatory and advisory limits for human exposure to radiation, and the implementation of patient and personnel radiation protection practices.

"..well written and easy to comprehend". Reviewed by Kirsten Farrell on behalf of RAD... View Details

Handbook of Evidence-Based Radiation Oncology
by Eric Hansen (Editor), Mack Roach III (Editor)

The Third Edition of Handbook of Evidence-Based Radiation Oncology updates and revises the previous successful editions and serves as a key reference for radiation oncology professionals. Organized by body site, concise clinical chapters provide easy access to critical information. Important "pearls" of epidemiology, anatomy, pathology, and clinical presentation are highlighted. The key elements of the work-up are listed, followed by staging and/or risk classification systems. Treatment recommendations are discussed based on stage, histology, and/or risk classification. Brief... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Consequences Of Racism
What does it mean to be judged before you walk through the door? What are the consequences? This week, TED speakers delve into the ways racism impacts our lives, from education, to health, to safety. Guests include poet and writer Clint Smith, writer and activist Miriam Zoila Pérez, educator Dena Simmons, and former prosecutor Adam Foss.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#465 How The Nose Knows
We've all got a nose but how does it work? Why do we like some smells and not others, and why can we all agree that some smells are good and some smells are bad, while others are dependant on personal or cultural preferences? We speak with Asifa Majid, Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition at Radboud University, about the intersection of culture, language, and smell. And we level up on our olfactory neuroscience with University of Pennsylvania Professor Jay Gottfried.