Scientists fear increased genetic defects in humans from Fukushima disaster after results of butterfly study

Published: August 22nd, 2012 at 5:33 pm ET
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Title: Scientists fear increased genetic defects in Fukushima
Source: Deutsche Welle (Public Broadcaster)
Author: Judith Hartl
Date: Aug 16, 2012

Scientists fear increased genetic defects in Fukushima

The effects of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima have now become visible in butterflies. Researchers worry the effects may start to be felt among human beings.

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“The findings of the Japanese scientists don’t surprise me. There were similar findings in studies conducted after Chernobyl,” [Winfrid Eisenberg, radiation expert and member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)] explained.

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Even today, Eisenberg said [Chernobyl] researchers continue to find around 100 times more genetic mutations in field mice, now the 52nd generation since the disaster, than in mice in uncontaminated areas.

Swallows were also greatly affected. In Chernobyl and its surrounding area, the birds are as good as extinct. The ones that do still exist there have “very small heads and very low success rates in breeding,” Eisenberg explained.

Winfrid Eisenberg fears that people will increasingly see the effects of nuclear radiation

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But not only animals and insects pass on genetic defects to their offspring. Nine months after Chernobyl, there was a significant increase in the number of babies born with trisomy 21 (also known as Down syndrome)

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Even small amounts of radiation can be dangerous

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Peter Jacob, head of the Institute for Radiation Protection at the Helmholz Center in Munich, told DW that even small quantities of radiation was enough to cause damage.

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Published: August 22nd, 2012 at 5:33 pm ET
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