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article imageHow does nuclear radiation affect animals? Special

By Daniel Boyington     Mar 29, 2011 in World
Toronto - Many of us are animal lovers, and we have heard very little about the affects of the nuclear radiation on the animal kingdom in Japan and near the Fukusima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The focus is centred on the residents, but what about the animals?
The devastation of the earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear radiation that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 has killed many and displaced thousands but we always seem to forget about the domestic pets and animals in the area. The nuclear radiation from the nuclear meltdown at Fukusima Daiichi, Japan affects those that have survived this tragedy and that means animals too. It is estimated there are 30,000 domestic pets affected and many residents are bringing them to the shelters with them.
There was a YouTube video that can be seen below of one injured dog standing by and protecting his friend as rescuers come to save the two.
Although many forget about the animal kingdom, animal lovers from all over the world have been concerned for the domestic pets and wildlife and how the radiation will affect them if they have survived this incident.
Dr Joanna Coote, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the Toronto Humane Society took some time to explain how the radiation could have an impact on animals and the wildlife that could have survived the tragedy.
"I guess it depends which animals you are referring to, so if we talk about dogs, cats, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep those are all mammals, so the way that animals are affected by radiation will be quite similar to humans, they often worry about the cumulative radiation affect so that if you are exposed to certain levels of radiation over time they're worried that there would be a cumulative affect of radiation that can cause dangerous levels." said Dr. Coote.
"In animals they don't really have a prolonged exposure to radiation, because they have such a short lifespan relative to humans," she went onto say about farm animals, "If they are farming dairy, goats or chickens, it's the issue with, one, the actual exposure to radiation the way we get exposed in the atmosphere so there's that exposure and then there's the exposure they get from the vegetation that they are eating. And it's also in the water, the runoff and the rain."
How does radiation affect cows.
How does radiation affect cows.
"Birds and insects will be affected as well and they can spread the radiation as they fly miles from the danger zone but they have a very low life-span and then it becomes a problem for the food chain as the bird eats the contaminated insect or the bird eats a contaminated fish that's a concern and then flies miles away and then the bird gets eaten by another predator and the cycle continues"
Tokyo, Japan - "Japan National Police Agency, on Tuesday (March 16, 2011) said, dead and missing has exceeded 12,000 and is expected to go well beyond this figure. Out of this number 4277 are confirmed dead with 2282 injured from the tsunami and earthquake, not including any that may die from nuclear radiation.
On Sunday (March 13, 2011), police chief of Miyagi, one of the prefectures hardest hit disaster, said the number of death toll is estimated at more than 10,000 in its own territory."
It is the general feelings of all specialists there is no real danger in Canada or the USA and if any radiation does come to our shores, it will be extremely low levels and little or no concern to humans or animals.
Ontario Veterinary College spokeman Barry Gunn said - "There really isn't anybody that can talk about your questions clearly, in general, the assumption is that any threat would be the same as it is for people, these animals might be exposed to radiation from food or water, some of the nuclear isotopes have a short half-life, and caesium has a half-life of 30 years so they disappear soon after exposure and I suppose the caesium will be around for a while in the soil."
Ontario SPCA was contacted but no-one was available to make a comment.
Toronto Humane Society
Toronto Humane Society
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