September 22, 2017
On April 25, 1986 in the city of Chernobyl in the Soviet Union, Dr. Valentin Belokon was just getting back to his office from tending to a person that had an asthma attack, when he saw two explosions at the nuclear power plant. When he was informed by his paramedical assistant that there had been an explosion that released massive amounts of radiation, he immediately sent two ambulances to the site, with him in pursuit. When Dr. Belokon arrived at the site, an eighteen-year-old man was brought to him with a very severe headache. The young man kept vomiting and he had nausea. Other people came to Dr. Belokon with similar symptoms, along with others like dryness and a blocked throat. Many of them were also beginning to act in a very strange manner. They would lose their ability to speak and would be confused and disoriented. All of these people were suffering from radiation sickness caused by their exposure radiation.1
Many of the people that had experienced the radiation first-hand were hospitalized and were being treated for radiation sickness.2 The numbers of those affected dramatically increased in the following months, as it was estimated that 600,000 people were exposed to the radiation. Victims were sent to different areas, due to the high number of people that needed to be examined and treated. Those that showed no sign of medical issues were sent home and asked to come back the following day for a follow-up examination. Patients that were sick, however, remained in the hospital and were seen by “the best scientific and medical specialists of the country, from specialized clinics in Moscow and other cities.”3 The patients stayed for months in the hospital, such as Dr. Belokon himself, who was discharged in the fall of 1986. Many of them were permanently damaged and affected by the radiation.4
The biggest problem that arose from the absorption of the radiation, apart from the radiation sickness, was that those who were exposed would pass on the health problems that the radiation caused to generations to come. The rates of cancer would surely rise in later years, especially thyroid cancer, as the thyroid would absorb much of the radiation.5 Other problems that would arise would be immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, and deformities in the children of those who were exposed to the high amounts of radiation. These health problems would arise due to the fact that the massive amounts of radiation absorbed ultimately changes the genetic structure of those that were affected and their offspring.6 The estimated number of deaths that would be caused from the indirect exposure of the radiation was set to approximately 4,000.7
Chernobyl was one of the biggest radiation disaster that has occurred in history. Thousands of people were affected by the biological and internal problems that the radiation caused. Many people are still being treated for cancers and other illnesses that can be traced back to the explosion. There were also many deaths that were caused throughout due to the nuclear power plant accident that occurred in the city of Chernobyl.
The Chernobyl disaster was a really devastating event that not many people know of. Unfortunately, it reminds us how humans can make mistakes that can affect the entire world in a matter of seconds. I acknowledge that nuclear energy can be useful to humans, in medicine, and weapons. Furthermore, occurrences like this one make us think if it’s really worth it.
People fear using nuclear power as an alternative resource to fossil fuels, and the effects brought by the cataclysmic event at Chernobyl is a major reason why. A great deal of suffering and death were inflicted upon many of the town’s inhabitants and those nearby, even if they were only exposed indirectly. All those who survived had probably had drastic changes to their very DNA structures and of future generations as well. With these being possible outcomes, one cannot blame those who worry about the implementation of nuclear power plants. Crucial steps will have to be taken to safeguard these plants to prevent another Chernobyl.
Chernobyl is something that most people are not aware of, or do not even fully grasp how toxic it was to innocent people. This article reminded me of one I read in a core class concerning the use of Agent Orange, a similar chemical to the one above with deadly effects. It is crazy to think about how many people were affected by this chemical and how quickly the effects were seen.