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article imageAnimals around Fukushima are still suffering

By Tim Sandle     Sep 26, 2014 in Science
Fukushima - Animals and insects in the vicinity of Fukushima show higher rates of death and disease, according to new research. Scientists attribute these to the consumption of contaminated food.
Unsurprisingly, the 2011 nuclear incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant released high levels of radiation into the surrounding area. To measure the ongoing impact, scientists studied butterflies. For their examination, researchers fed sets of pale blue grass butterflies (Zizeeria maha) leaves from six different areas at varying distance from the Fukushima site (between 59 kilometers to 1760 kilometers). The butterflies showed signs of illness and early death rates. The scientists went onto study the effects on the next generation. Worryingly, even with comparatively low levels of caesium radiation there was an observable effect on the butterflies' lifespan.
For this, the scientists fed offspring the same contaminated leaves as their parents. This part of the research showed that the offspring fed uncontaminated leaves behaved mostly like normal butterflies. This was irrespective of the amount of radiation their parents had been exposed to.
The inference from the research is that decontaminating the food source can save the next generation. Here the researchers argue that greater efforts should be put into the cleaning-up of the area around the disaster site.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant went into meltdown during March 2011, when Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant three of the plant's six nuclear reactors failed. The failure occurred when the plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the magnitude 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake.
The findings have been published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. The paper is headed “Ingestion of radioactively contaminated diets for two generations in the pale grass blue butterfly.”
More about fukushima, Radiation, Animals, Butterflies, Insects
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