Nuclear Accidents

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Nuclear Accidents

by Goodbook on Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:04 PM

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FOLLOWING tests of nuclear weapons in the 1950’s, strontium 90 (Sr90), a by-product of nuclear reactions, was found in baby teeth, reports the Globe and Mail newspaper of Canada. At the time, this was blamed for a surge in cancer among children. Now, decades later, scientists associated with the U.S. Radiation and Public Health Project are concerned again. Dr. Janet Sherman, an internal-medicine specialist working with the project, explains that “Sr90 levels in baby teeth of children born since 1990 are reaching levels that were in existence during the above-ground testing years.” Where is the Sr90 coming from? Some scientists point to past nuclear accidents, to radiation from properly functioning nuclear plants, or to the bomb tests carried out many years ago as possible sources.* Whatever its origin, humans take in Sr90 by eating food from contaminated plants and drinking milk from cows that have eaten tainted grass. Since Sr90 is chemically similar to calcium, humans store the radioactive material in their bones, increasing the risk of bone cancer and leukemia. The Globe also expresses concern about future generations’ exposure to radiation. “When removed from the reactor core,” the newspaper explains, “[nuclear waste] is about a million times more radioactive than when it was loaded. A freshly spent fuel bundle is reckoned to be so deadly that a person standing only a metre [three feet] away would die of radiation poisoning within an hour.”
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