animal experiments, Chernobyl, Chernobyl disaster, Children of Chernobyl, dangers of ionizing radiation, dangers of nuclear, Fukushima, guinea pigs, Health impacts nuclear, human experiments, IAEA, ionizing radiation, narrow-mindness, nuclear energy, nuclear industry, nuclear power, plutonium, radio iodine, radioactive iodine, radium, Three Mile Island, thyroid, thyroid cancer, thyroid disease, UNSCEAR, x-rays
Since we discussed an epidemiological re-evaluation of Three Mile Island last time, we found the following information, from our reblog post, of special interest:
“The amount of radiation that escaped at Three Mile Island is unknown. Outdoor radiation monitors were spaced too far apart to capture plumes of radiation. Monitors within the reactor building were out of order. Traps for radioactive iodine had been inexplicably removed. All one has to go on are the health and environmental effects: the clouding over of dentists’ films…, the livestock keeling over, the one eyed kittens, a parrot breeder’s dead birds, vanished insects,…, tulips with buds on their stems, the metallic taste experienced by many Three Mile Island area residents-an effect experienced at Hiroshima and Chemobyl-and cancers and cancers and cancers.” https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/lies-of-our-times-high-level-omissions-by-anna-mayo/ The current US EPA rad net monitors are also amazingly sparse — usually one per state. A lot in the reblog on Sellafield too.
Is this acceptable? Is it “ok”?
Photo of piglet in the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum. Photo by Vincent de Groot, via wikmedia. (It looks kind of like a puppy, but the photo says it’s a pig. Pigs do have teeth).
It’s absolutely infuriating to see the IAEA and others (e.g. UNSCEAR), as seen in our previous post, proclaim thyroid cancer and disease no real problem. In a 2005 article the IAEA upped the cases to 4,000 thyroid related cancer at Chernobyl, all while glossing over the seriousness of this disease. http://www.iaea. org/newscenter/features/chernobyl-15/thyroid.shtml Not only are there issues of mortality but also of morbidity or disease. Contrary to what IAEA and UNSCEAR would lead us to believe, thyroid cancer is not the only cause of morbidity or mortality from Chernobyl. Nonetheless, also contrary to what they try to mislead everyone to believe, thyroid cancer and thyroid disease is extremely serious business. In short, IAEA and UNSCEAR admit to thyroid cancer related to Chernobyl but not much of anything else. They gloss over the thyroid cancer as no big deal, while suggesting that it would not have happened if the population had not been iodine deficient. They almost totally ignore the rest. This is obscene.
Thyroid damage can be caused by both external radiation to neck and head and internal radiation from ingestion of radioiodine (and possibly other radionuclides).
Thyroid cancer-disease IS a problem. The thyroid is NOT an expendable organ. The thyroid is critically important for the human body. Victims may live but being forced to take thyroid medicine for life is serious business. Furthermore, it locks the individual into the medical-industrial complex for life and their lives depend upon it; it appears difficult to get the medication in balance, as well. (Who pays for a lifetime of medication? The individual? The taxpayer?) Too much medication gives the symptoms of hyperthyroidism; too little hypothyroidism. An excess in medication causes nervousness, insomnia, and can even increase risk of heart attack. Too little can lead to fatigue and weight gain, and other problems.
A good doctor is required. An imbalance of the medication can be life-threatening. Nothing can replace the human body! Nothing can replace lost organs! Nothing can replace the good seafood, which is no longer safe to eat either.
If you read, or have read, the following by US EPA, you quickly see just how widespread exposure to the radionuclides, iodine 129 and iodine 131 must be. Iodine 131 has a half-life of 8 days; Iodine 129 of 15.7 million years. This means that all of the iodine 129 which has entered the environment whether from nuclear tests, nuclear accidents or nuclear power plants, still is there and is still increasing in quantity:
“How do iodine-129 and iodine-131 get into the environment?
Iodine-129 and iodine-131 are gaseous fission products that form within fuel rods as they fission. Unless reactor chemistry is carefully controlled, they can build up too fast, increasing pressure and causing corrosion in the rods. As the rods age, cracks or wholes may breach the rods.
Cracked rods can release radioactive iodine into the water that surrounds and cools the fuel rods. There, it circulates with the cooling water throughout the system, ending up in the airborne, liquid, and solid wastes from the reactor. From time to time, reactor gas capture systems release gases, including iodine, to the environment under applicable regulations.
Anywhere spent nuclear fuel is handled, there is a chance that iodine-129 and iodine-131 will escape into the environment. Nuclear fuel reprocessing plants dissolve the spent fuel rods in strong acids to recover plutonium and other valuable materials. In the process, they also release iodine-129 and -131 into the airborne, liquid, and solid waste processing systems. In the U.S., spent nuclear fuel is no longer reprocessed, because of concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation.
Currently, spent nuclear fuel remains in temporary storage at nuclear power plants around the country. If the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain opens, it will provide permanent disposal for spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive wastes. Wherever spent nuclear fuel is stored, the short-lived iodine-131 it contains will decay away quickly and completely. However, the long-lived iodine-129 will remain for millions of years. Keeping it from leaking into the environment, requires carefully designed, long-term safeguards.
The detonation of nuclear weapons also releases iodine-129 into the environment. Atmospheric testing in the 1950’s and 60’s released radioactive iodine to the atmosphere which has disseminated around the world, and is now found at very low levels in the environment. Most I-129 in the environment came from weapons testing.” (bold added for emphasis) http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/iodine.html
This is a less happy account about thyroid cancer than the distortions-lies brought to us by the IAEA-UNSCEAR, and others:
“Thyroid consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.” By Pacini F, Vorontsova T, Molinaro E, Shavrova E, Agate L, Kuchinskaya E, Elisei R, Demidchik EP, Pinchera A. Acta Paediatr Suppl. 1999 Dec;88(433):23-7.
It is well recognized that the use of external irradiation of the head and neck to treat patients with various non-thyroid disorders increases their risk of developing papillary thyroid carcinoma years after radiation exposure. An increased risk of thyroid cancer has also been reported in survivors of the atomic bombs in Japan, as well as in Marshall Island residents exposed to radiation during the testing of hydrogen bombs. More recently, exposure to radioactive fallout as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident has clearly caused an enormous increase in the incidence of childhood thyroid carcinoma in Belarus, Ukraine, and, to a lesser extent, in the Russian Federation, starting in 1990. When clinical and epidemiological features of thyroid carcinomas diagnosed in Belarus after the Chernobyl accident are compared with those of naturally occurring thyroid carcinomas in patients of the same age group in Italy and France, it becomes apparent that the post-Chernobyl thyroid carcinomas were much less influenced by gender, virtually always papillary (solid and follicular variants), more aggressive at presentation and more frequently associated with thyroid autoimmunity. Gene mutations involving the RET proto-oncogene, and less frequently TRK, have been shown to be causative events specific for papillary cancer. RET activation was found in nearly 70% of the patients who developed papillary thyroid carcinomas following the Chernobyl accident. In addition to thyroid cancer, radiation-induced thyroid diseases include benign thyroid nodules, hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis, with or without thyroid insufficiency, as observed in populations after environmental exposure to radioisotopes of iodine and in the survivors of atomic bomb explosions. On this basis, the authors evaluated thyroid autoimmune phenomena in normal children exposed to radiation after the Chernobyl accident. The results demonstrated an increased prevalence of circulating thyroid antibodies not associated with significant thyroid dysfunction. This finding is consistent with the short period of follow-up, but it is highly likely that these children will develop clinical thyroid autoimmune diseases in the future. Therefore, screening programmes for this at-risk population should focus, not only on the detection of thyroid nodules and cancer, but also on the development of thyroid autoimmune diseases.” (bold added) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10626541
Although ingestion of a proper amount of iodine in the diet (it is important to remember balance and that excess is as dangerous as too little), can help protect against internal radiation from radio-iodine, it is not total protection. It also does not protect against external radiation, nor from other types of internal radiation. And, is iodized salt tested for radioiodine? Who knows? It’s not an answer which is easy to find on internet, although it is probably there someplace. Our guess is that some is and some isn’t, depending on the country and the brand. The ideal is eating seafood and seaweed, but we all now know that between Fukushima and Sellafield that this is rather a certain way of ingesting radioactive iodine isotopes, along with plutonium and other radioactive nasties. From a health perspective and from a seafood lovers perspective this is both criminal and an absolute tragedy. The fallout from above ground nuclear testing, nuclear power plants and Chernobyl certainly haven’t helped either.
As the world is increasingly contaminated, if the nuclear industry is not stopped, just how will we be sure that we have radiation free iodine, or anything else, anyway? As we have seen, various levels of radiation, most appearing excessive, considering bioaccumulation, are allowed in food and water in most, if not all countries. This probably includes salt. Depending on the country, non-food items such as coffee, chocolate and spices tend to have worse standards than food. This is especially true in the event of a “nuclear emergency”.
The thyroid IS needed; it DOES matter and rather than cursing and name calling the IAEA-UNSCEAR, as they deserve, we suggest that those at the IAEA and UNSCEAR ingest radioiodine and if they do not develop cancer or thyroid disease in a timely manner, then they have their thyroids removed anyway. Then they can see if this organ matters or not. Let them do for themselves what they think is ok for others. If they have any honour at all, which is doubtful, they can do it voluntarily. If not, they should be forced to act as guinea pigs and ingest radioiodine (and other radionuclides), wait for cancer and remove their thyroids whether they have cancer or not. This can be part of the job requirement for IAEA and UNSCEAR. It should be a requirement for working in any aspect of promotion of the nuclear industry.
In fact, let’s have the IAEA-UNSCEAR move to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and to Fukushima exclusion zone-prefecture and serve as nuclear guinea pigs. No joke. Why not? They say it’s safe. They should move the headquarters of IAEA from Vienna to Fukushima and Chernobyl. They must eat food grown there and drink the water, as well. They would be perfect guinea pig candidates since like animals they don’t get “radiophobia”. They love the radiation, so let’s give them the opportunity to live in the radiation and even eat the food, for laniappe (a little something extra- this measured in Bqs). (By the way, unfortunately, we DO have real guinea pig research to discuss at some point, if we don’t lose it, so the title isn’t only metaphor). Isn’t it weird that IAEA-UNSCEAR have their headquarters in Vienna, Austria where nuclear power is illegal? Let’s see if they sing the same tune from Chernobyl and Fukushima?
And, for that matter, let’s have all of the pro-nuclear government officials – too lengthy to name- and nuclear industry CEOs and everyone who thinks that nuclear is great move to the Fukushima and Chernobyl exclusion zones, and eat the food and drink the water from there. They must also bring their children and grand-children. Some of those men looked old enough to have great-grand children so they must come too.
Let the Fukushima and Chernobyl victims move around the world to the posh homes of these pro-nuclear people. This is no joking matter. Why shouldn’t they? It only makes sense that those who say that nuclear power is good and that the exclusion zones are safe should live there.
This is a brilliant, win-win idea, if we do say so ourselves! Moving all of the pro-nuclear people to Chernobyl and Fukushima, including government officials, will be great for the economic development of the regions. They can have their children grow the food in the garden there; they can hunt wild deer and boars. They can even put an underground nuclear waste repository there with them! Then all of the victims of the Fukushima and Chernobyl who are “radiophobic” can go to the less radioactive homes of the “radiophiles”. It’s a perfect solution! Win-win, good economic development, solves evacuation issues, solves nuclear waste storage dilemma, and all of that.
Thyroid gland importance
“The thyroid gland or simply, the thyroid /ˈθaɪərɔɪd/, in vertebrate anatomy, is one of the largest endocrine glands. The thyroid gland is found in the neck, below the thyroid cartilage (which forms the laryngeal prominence, or “Adam’s apple”). The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones. It participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, the principal ones being triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine which can sometimes be referred to as tetraiodothyronine (T4). These hormones regulate the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. T3 and T4 are synthesized from iodine and tyrosine.
The thyroid also produces calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.
Hormonal output from the thyroid is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the anterior pituitary, which itself is regulated by thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) produced by the hypothalamus… ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thyroid
Iodine also concentrates in the breasts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine_in_biology This means that radio-iodine will also concentrate in the breast.
“Calcitonin…is produced in humans primarily by the parafollicular cells (also known as C-cells) of the thyroid, and in many other animals in the ultimobranchial body. It acts to reduce blood calcium (Ca2+), opposing the effects of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Calcitonin has been found in fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals…”.
The hormone participates in calcium (Ca2+) and phosphorus metabolism. In many ways, calcitonin counteracts parathyroid hormone (PTH).
More specifically, calcitonin lowers blood Ca2+ levels in three ways:
Inhibits Ca2+ absorption by the intestines
Inhibits osteoclast activity in bones
Inhibits renal tubular cell reabsorption of Ca2+ allowing it to be excreted in the urine
However, effects of calcitonin that mirror those of PTH include the following:
Inhibits phosphate reabsorption by the kidney tubules
In its skeleton-preserving actions, calcitonin protects against calcium loss from skeleton during periods of calcium mobilization, such as pregnancy and, especially, lactation.
Other effects are in preventing postprandial hypercalcemia resulting from absorption of Ca2+. Also, calcitonin inhibits food intake in rats and monkeys, and may have CNS action involving the regulation of feeding and appetite.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcitonin
DO THE PRO-NUCLEAR LOBBY AND THE IAEA-UNSCEAR CONSIDER THEMSELVES GODS THAT THEY THINK IT’S OK TO PLAY AROUND WITH ELEMENTS THAT CONSTITUTE THE VERY FOUNDATIONS OF PLANT, HUMAN AND OTHER ANIMAL LIFE?
HOW DARE THEY WIELD THE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH OVER US ALL AND OVER THE EARTH! THEY ARE NOT GOD! They aren’t even gods.
WILL WE LET THE PRO NUCLEAR PEOPLE AND THEIR MINIONS IN GOVT AND ELSEWHERE CONTINUE TO WIELD THE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH OVER US OR WILL WE REVOLT AGAINST THEM? HOW MUCH LONGER? NOT LONGER! TIME TO STOP ALL NUCLEAR AND SEND THE PRO-NUCLEAR PEOPLE, INCLUDING MANY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, ALONG WITH THE NUCLEAR WASTE TO CHERNOBYL AND FUKUSHIMA. They love radionuclides. No radio-phobia among them. Let’s tell them to get packing and get a move-on. Many more workers still needed at Fukushima and Chernobyl. Are they nuclear “experts”? So, much the better then! Let the Japanese homeless be rehoused at the Elysee, Downing Street and DC, etc. rather than working at Fukushima. Let the Chernobyl and Fukushima displaced move to the homes of all of the pro-nuclear hot-shots…home swapping.
Friday, 7 February 2014
Oh, when we say that the pro-nuclear people need to go live at Chernobyl and Fukushima, we mean that they should live like regular people and NOT be living there with special biodomes and air filters, which the average person cannot afford. They must drink the local water. They should spend time outside, in the swamp and woods, and open the windows in the spring and summer. As already indicated they should eat locally grown food, grown by their families or other radiophiles (lovers of radiation), and not the radiophobes, who the radiophiles love to disrespect. They can also eat the wild berries and mushrooms and other wild food from the forests. We are definitely not saying this for shock value, but rather because it is the only thing which makes sense. It will be quickly made clear who really thinks nuclear is ok and who thinks it’s ok if it’s the problem of others, and it will provide desperately needed workers on these two sites. It will also provide homes for the displaced who can move to the homes of the pro-nuclear people.
In one of the Chernobyl films examined in the last post, some mention was made about the external radiation not being as bad in the winter because of the snow. So, we found the following in the European Commission’s “Radiation Protection 106: Technical Recommendations on measurements of external environmental gamma radiation doses.“, I.M.G. Thompson et. al., EURADOS report, 1999:
“Because of weapons tests in the 1950’s and 60’s a small world-wide contribution from 137Cs may now be considered part of the radiation background. Due to the Chernobyl accident in 1986, large areas of Europe are contaminated with 137 Cs…
When evaluating variations of dose rate with time it is important to take into account that the total dose rate from environmental radiation is not constant over the course of a day or from one day to the next. Some of the natural temporal variations are associated with diurnal temperature changes and the accompanying atmospheric turbulence. Radon gas exhaled from soil during the night stays near the surface of the earth while the air is cold, with the gamma emitting progeny causing an increase in the radiation background level during this time. As the air is warmed by the sun during the day, vertical diffusion reduces the radon concentration and the ground level radiation decreases.
Precipitation also plays a major role in natural variations in the background radiation. For example, rain or snow can scavenge airborne radon progeny causing an increase in radiation levels for several hours. Subsequently, wet ground or snow deposited on or in the soil surface attenuates the terrestrial component causing radiation levels to drop below the previous baseline after the precipitation stops, the levels gradually increase as the ground dries. Other possible natural variations are related to seasonal influences in the exhalation rate of radon from the ground, such as frozen soil allowing less of the gas to escape, or changes in the cosmic ray component with atmospheric pressure and solar cycle…Snow cover is more effective at attenuation than an equivalent rainfall because it remains on the surface instead of draining immediately into the soil. A seasonal pattern of outdoor air kerma rate occurs, therefore, in regions subject to significant snowfall. Sievert and Hultquist [SIE52] have shown that a 20 cm depth of snow reduces the environmental gamma-ray air kerma rate by 26% for a snow density of 0.1 g cm-3, and by 58% for a snow density of 0.4 g cm-3.” (p. 8) Bold added by us for emphasis. 20 cm of snow is 7.87 inches of snow.
“Kerma is an acronym for “kinetic energy released per unit mass” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerma_(physics) Of course, as usual, no talk of all of the other radionuclides, which fell from the sky during the weapons tests, and Chernobyl. Nor is there mention of radionuclide emissions from other reactors.
Sunday, 9 February 2014
Regarding the last update, notice that where there are radionuclides in the atmosphere, either from an accident, weapons test, routine emissions from nuclear plants, or mining, it will come down as rain or snow. In that context, precipitation is not good. However, where the ground is very contaminated and the snow less contaminated, the snow should offer some protection against external radiation, as described above. Another iteration is, of course, that fallout can fall on top of snow or ice, thus creating an immediate local impact, but a delayed entry of the radionuclides into water. This has been suggested as a possible route for delayed contamination of arctic water mammals post-Fukushima.
It is critically important to understand that as world-wide contamination constantly increases, and it cannot help but do so due to the longevity of the long-lived radionuclides which no one speaks of — liking only to speak of the shorter lived ones, that we will be speaking of radioactive rain and snow, falling upon radioactive ground. The food and water will be increasingly contaminated, such that even the shorter half-lives within the human body will be meaningless.
While on the topic, we must mention in passing that Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on testing for plutonium and hence one of his research areas is “plutonium isotopes and the behavior of fallout Pu in seawater and groundwater”. So why do we hear only about caesium in the context of Fukushima?– nothing about the plutonium! Woods Hole is MIT, which saw fit to put radio-iodine in the milk and cereal of children, back in the 1940s or 50s. It is also strange that Buesseler graduated from MIT-Woods Hole and has stayed there. Universities are not supposed to be incestuous in this manner.
Unlike the anecdotal reports coming out of Chernobyl regarding wildlife, Møller and Mousseau have been investigating Chernobyl, on the ground, in a systematic and methodical scientific manner since 1999. One of their more recent publications described research involving a systematic count of animal tracks: “Assessing effects of radiation on abundance of mammals and predator–prey interactions in Chernobyl using tracks in the snow.” Ecological Indicators 26 (2013) 112–116. They counted the tracks in the snow, which even someone who failed regular animal tracking school can easily learn to do. They have found, not surprisingly, that the abundance of mammals decreases as radiation increases. Remember that there is variation in radiation levels, even within the impacted areas.
Mousseau’s impressive background is here: http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/Mousseau/Mousseau.html It is worth bearing this background and their respective locations in mind when evaluating criticism of their work. With academic affiliations in South Carolina and France, if anything, one would expect from them an underestimation of the impacts of the Chernobyl or Fukushima nuclear accident. With Areva nuclear majority French gov-owned, as well as EDF, the control of the nuclear industry over France (and vice versa) appears clear. In South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham has a pet MOX project by Areva. Although grant monies seem to matter more these days than politics in US state universities, this is not totally the case. So, if the research of Møller and Mousseau was not sound, or even perhaps underestimating the negative impact of nuclear, it is clear that they would no longer hold their academic positions. Tenure would not protect them. Thus, their research is going to be either accurate or an underestimation of negative impact. It is not going to be an overestimation. If it were, the pro-nuclear people would get rid of them in a heart-beat. But, the pro-nuclear people have no leg to stand on in this case.
Møller and Mousseau’s foremost internet critic is pro-nuclear; comparatively not that well-qualified, and has worked for USAID, which is widely believed to be, at least sometimes, a front, cover organization, for looking after government agendas for the US gov and its friends. Why the US has a pro-nuclear agenda, we cannot fathom, unless it is pork-barrel, and protecting the nuclear industry and US gov against lawsuits. Even that person recognizes that it is impossible to count animal abnormalities, because any such animal would be quickly eaten. The critic may be honest, but maybe not. Møller has been subjected to other criticism, which seems more a personal vendetta, although there may be other aspects to this: “all five of the persons who raised accusations against me in the press or in emails to colleagues had previously published work in which they took theoretical or experimental positions contrary to my own.” http://184.108.40.206/dedication/moller/Moller_ISBE_Newsletter.pdf Here is the list of researchers who came to his defense, saying that his research was above-reproach: http://220.127.116.11/dedication/moller/authors.html
For the importance of new nuclear contracts in South Carolina:
“OINK: TV ad skewers Lindsey Graham’s pork-barrel plutonium MOX boondoggle
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 19, 2013 — If it walks like pork and sounds like pork — even with a French accent — it’s probably pork. And pork is what the Department of Energy’s MOX Project is. As a key House subcommittee takes up funding for the problem-plagued, budget-busting nuclear fuel program, Senator Lindsey Graham’s obsessive support of the project at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River site in his home state of South Carolina is being targeted in an off-beat, on-target TV ad from Friends of the Earth.” http://www.nonukesyall.org/MOX.html NB: It is due to the French Norman Conquest of England that it is pork and not pig or swine barrel.
In our opinion the importance of nuclear to France must also be largely due to pork-barrel politics, in conjunction with the political and elitist nature of high level positions in France, whether in government or academia. As others have observed, nuclear projects involve a lot of government funded construction contracts for private companies. In short, French elites almost all attend the same elite schools and hold the reputation of looking after each others’ interests – whether in the private or public sector. We have been unable to come up with any other explanation since Areva claims to be losing money, rather than contributing to the French government coffers. We conclude that the importance of nuclear to France must lie in nepotism and patronage, because it’s the only thing which makes sense in the context.
Monday, 10 February 2014
Returning to the study:
“Assessing effects of radiation on abundance of mammals and predator–prey interactions in Chernobyl using tracks in the snow“, by Anders Pape Møller a, Timothy A. Mousseau b
Ecological Indicators 26 (2013) pp. 112–116
a Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, CNRS UMR, Université Paris-Sud
b Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA
In this study they note that only recently have extensive counts of animals compared to background radiation around Chernobyl been undertaken. Their findings indicate a negative correlation between animal abundance and radiation, in both Ukraine and Belarus, meaning that the higher the level of radiation the fewer animals present. They note that other studies indicating no impact by radiation are much more limited in scope than theirs. The numbers of mammals, birds, bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and spiders were all found to be lower in areas of higher radiation:
“Recently, extensive censuses have revealed negative relationships between the abundance of a range of animals and the level of background radiation around Chernobyl, Ukraine (Møller and Mousseau, 2007a, 2009a,b), and similar patterns have been described from Belarus (Møller and Mousseau, 2007a, 2009a,b). The negative relationships between abundance and radiation were present in mammals, birds, bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and spiders (Møller and Mousseau, 2007a, 2009a,b)…We are unaware of any other studies covering more than a few sampling sites suggesting that there are no effects of radiation on abundance or species diversity….We recorded 445 mammals belonging to 12 different species…”
Although the abundance of mammals, in general, decreased with level of radiation, some were more impacted than others. The largest negative effect was on the fox, whereas the wolf was the least impacted.
They conclude that “The main findings of this study of the abundance of mammal tracks in relation to level of radiation around Chernobyl were that (1) there were many more mammals in less contaminated areas independent of the statistical model, (2) species differed significantly in this response to radiation with some showing sharp decreases in abundance, while others did not, and (3) there was a functional response of predators to abundance of prey depending on level of radiation.”
Not surprisingly, they found that “Predators were disproportionately common at high population densities of prey.” However, interestingly, “this effect of high densities of prey was particularly important at high levels of radiation”. Hence, they “suggest that high levels of radiation may render prey particularly susceptible to predation, through the effects of radiation on antioxidant levels, damage to DNA and other molecules or cytotoxic effects of radiation.”
Although Møller and Mousseau suggest that some species are more resistant to radiation than others, we thought of an alternative hypothesis for comparing fox to wolves. Wolves have a much greater territorial hunting range than fox do. The territories of fox range from 10 – 2000 hectares, i.e. 0.1 to 20 sq km (0.39-7.72 sq. miles). http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/carnivores/fox_red.html The territory of wolves ranges from 130 to 1,500 sq. kms (50 – 580 sq. miles). http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/carnivores/wolf_grey.html “Wolves are hunters, and they travel far and wide to locate prey. They may travel 50 miles or more each day in search of food, and they are superbly designed for a life on the move.” http://www.wolf.org/learn/basic-wolf-info/wolf-faqs/ 50 miles is 80.5 km.
Hence, the wolves would, most likely, be going in and out of contaminated zones and thus have less of a probability of being constantly in a contaminated zone. And, less of their food would be contaminated.
12 February 2014 Wednesday
Prey has a more limited range, and tends to be less abundant in the most contaminated areas. This means that the wolf will spend less time in the more contaminated areas and is more likely to raise its young in less contaminated areas due greater prevalence of prey. Additionally, wolves seems to mate in winter and carry their young (63 days) so that they may benefit somewhat from a protective layer of snow.
While wolves may travel as far as 80.5 km per day or 80,467 meters, the horizons of the Apodemus sylvaticus (wood mouse), long-tailed field mouse, for instance, are much more limited. While they “are very good climbers, jumpers, and swimmers”, male wood mice normally live in a diameter of 109 meters. We presume from this that they go out about 55 meters from their homes in all directions. Females live within a diameter of 64 meters. We presume this means that they range out about 32 meters from their home in any direction. Longevity of these mice in the wild is about one year. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Apodemus_sylvaticus/ The smaller the territory of the animal, the more likely it will pass its entire life within either a contaminated zone or a less contaminated zone, whereas far-ranging predators will be more likely to encounter both. However, if there are less prey in contaminated zones then, by definition, the predator spends less time in the contaminated zones. Even if the original mouse populations of a contaminated zone die off, the high reproduction rates of mice could lead to a population immigration into the contaminated zone: “The gestation period of wood mice is of 25–26 days and each female produces on average five young. The offspring become independent after about three weeks and become sexually active after two months.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_mouse If these new occupants of more contaminated zones become ill then they could be more attractive to predators. In the case of this mouse, this may be the fox.
It is important to understand that this scenario assumes a mixture of more and less contaminated zones, as is the case for the Chernobyl fall-out. In a sense, it is a sort of microcosm of the earth, where food can still be sourced from more and less contaminated areas; and some have more options than others. However, if nuclear everything is not stopped and as the entire earth, which is connected, becomes increasingly contaminated by intentional and unintentional radioactive emissions (including accidents) there will be no less-contaminated zones and no less-contaminated food. It is essential to recognize this problem.
We note for instance, Ketterer et. al. (2010)
“The Black Sea is one of the most contaminated marine basins in the Northern Hemisphere; since the 26 April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the Black Sea has been a sink for Chernobyl-associated radionuclides. It has been estimated that ~ 2 PBq of 137 Cs were directly deposited by the atmosphere onto the water surface of the Black Sea . Two major rivers, the Danube and Dnieper, account for 75% of the total runoff entering the Black Sea; in the northwestern Black Sea, these two systems account for ~ 95% of the entering fluvial input. The Danube basin generally received lower Chernobyl fallout than other basins such as the Dnieper and Don; however, with a vast catchment area of 817,000 km 2 , the Danube represents the largest source of dissolved and particle-associated nuclides that are still being transported into the Black Sea. Between 1986 and 1994, the estimated delivery of 137 Cs via the Danube was approximately 25 TBq . ” and “The Chernobyl-derived Pu in the Danube Delta sediments evidently originates from non-volatile actinides deposited into the Danube catchment basin during April-May 1986, followed by erosion and fluvial transport to the Black Sea.”
Entire article here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/chernobyl-plutonium-pollutes-danube-river-basin-delta-and-black-sea/ Note TBq (terabecquerel), and PBq (petabecquerel) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Becquerel
Very, very slowly the radionuclides have been working their way from the Black Sea to the Aegean, Mediterranean and will ultimately spread throughout the world:
“The Black Sea is a sea in south-eastern Europe. It is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean Seas and various straits. The Bosphorus Strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the Strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean Sea region of the Mediterranean. These waters separate eastern Europe and western Asia. The Black Sea is also connected to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea
It is noteworthy that the generations of wood mice are very short. If each mouse lives one year, it’s been 28 lifetimes since Chernobyl. For Japan, the life expectancy is 82.6 yrs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy 28 Japanese lifetimes would be 2,313 years.
Wood Mouse. Photo by Hans Hilewaert, via Wikimedia.
As a reminder: Cesium 137 half-life is about 30 years, so that the cesium 137 contamination in 2016 will be about half of what it was in 1986. If they only check for that, then clearly it has declined by almost 1/2. The fact that it mimics potassium and reportedly has a very high uptake level makes it a major danger, but not the only one. Strontium 90 has a half life of about 29 years, so it too has declined to almost half of what it was in 1986 for Chernobyl. It mimics calcium in the body and so represents a major danger as well. But, it is not all. Plutonium 239 has a half life of 24,100 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium It is clear WHY almost no one discusses plutonium, especially governments or the nuclear industry. They want to pretend it doesn’t exist. Plutonium mimics iron in the body; recent research, discussed in an earlier post in this series, suggests that it also mimics calcium and zinc in the body. Like plutonium, neptunium, thorium, americium and curium mimic iron in the body. According to “Identification of transferrin as the principal neptunium-binding protein in the blood serum of rats” (Abstract), by Wirth R, Taylor DM, Duffield J, Int J Nucl Med Biol. 1985;12(4):327-30: “The available data indicate that as for plutonium, thorium, americium and curium, the iron transport protein, transferrin, may be the main carrier protein for neptunium in mammalian blood serum“. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4086199 237 Neptonium has a half-life of 2.14 million years, 236Neptonium has a half-life of 154,000 years, and 235Neptonium has a half-life of 396.1 days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neptunium
The most stable isotope is 237Np with a half-life of 2.14 million years. It is a by-product of nuclear reactors and plutonium production. Neptunium is absorbed by the digestive tract. “When injected it concentrates in the bones, from which it is slowly released.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_neptunium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neptunium
Little is heard of Americium, “there are two long-lived alpha-emitters, 241Am and 243Am, with half-lives of 432.2 and 7,370 years, respectively, and the nuclear isomer 242m1Am has a long half-life of 141 years.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americium
“Americium is an artificial actinide element formed in nuclear reactors and in nuclear explosions. The most important radionuclide of americium, 241Am, is an alpha emitter with a half-life of 433 years. It is formed by beta decay of 241Pu, which is the most prevailing plutonium nuclide in fresh fallout from nuclear explosions and accidents. Americium is a highly radiotoxic element that together with plutonium forms most of the alpha activity in fallout situations.” In Finland, “the amount is still somewhat increasing due to decay of 241Pu.” (Lehto, Jukka, 2009, “Americium in the Finnish environment” Boreal environment research 14: 427–437 http://www.borenv.net/BER/pdfs/ber14/ber14-427.pdf
“The radiation from exposure to americium is the primary cause of adverse health effects from americium. Inside your body, americium is concentrated in your bones, where it remains for a long time. The radiation given off by americium can change the genetic material of the bone cells and this could result in the formation of bone cancers” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=810&tid=158 (MOX fuel contains both 241Am and 243Am) http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=809&tid=158
Radioactive Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine-129 It’s a no-brainer that it wreaks its havoc by replacing regular iodine in the thyroid and elsewhere.
Friday, 14 February 2014
Remember, when reading or hearing about Chernobyl, that there is more than one zone which is called the exclusion zone, at least in English media: The official smaller exclusion zone near the reactor, but also a huge one which has splotchy contamination of various degrees. The map above shows multiple zones. We have found that the area being discussed by media is often unclear. There are differences even within these splotches. It is possible that failing to distinguish between the smaller and larger exclusion zones, as well as differences within zones, can be used to trick people into thinking that things are better than they are. It is worth remembering, as well, that no country wants to admit that large portions or most of its territory is polluted and unsafe to live in. What can they do then with their population? Thus, it begs the lie. And, much information and information control comes from governments. To make matters worse, some media has ties to the nuclear industry, which appears diabolically hell-bent to revive itself until it kills us all. See for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GE_Hitachi_Nuclear_Energy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_General_Electric This is almost certainly only the tip of the iceberg. US Public Broadcasting also receives much private funding from various sources.
Furthermore, variation in contaminated areas also remain largely unknown:
“The territory of the zone is polluted unevenly. Spots of hyperintensive pollution were created first by wind and rain spreading radioactive dust at the time of the accident, and subsequently by numerous burial sites for various material and equipment used in decontamination. Zone authorities pay attention to protecting such spots from tourists, scrap hunters and wildfires, but admit that some dangerous burial sites remain unmapped and known only by recollections of the liquidators.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Exclusion_Zone (bold added for emphasis) One must add to this the fact that radiation moves gradually deeper into the soil, moves through waterways, etc.
Roe Deer Photo by Asabengurtza via wikimedia
Returning to our travel distances of prey. Wolves tend to hunt larger prey than fox, such as deer, who themselves have large ranges of territory. We did not find an estimated territory size for the Roe Deer which might be found at Chernobyl. However, someone made a model of how Roe Deer find territory “Establish range. A potential home range is evaluated with regard to i) distance to natal area, ii) habitat quality and iii) presence of other individuals of the same sex. Initially the animal evaluates a minimum square area. If the area fails to fulfil the requirements, the size is gradually increased towards an upper limit. If still insufficient the area is abandoned and the animal continues to disperse the next day“. http://bios.au.dk/fileadmin/Attachments/RoeDeerModelDescription.pdf
French wikipedia tells us a bit more about the Roe Deer:
In case of danger, they can run very quickly, up to a speed of 90 km/hour, but only for a short distance. The maximum recorded speed was by a male deer who attained a speed of 98km/hour over a distance of 100 meters, and an average speed of 72 km/hour over 700 meters.
The authors of the French wikipedia article also observe that the deer bones and especially the antlers can be gnawed on by other animals, especially squirrels who seem to do so to recover minerals and perhaps to sharpen teeth. [NB: This is probably how squirrels have become transmission vectors of spongiform encephalapathies, aka “mad cow” disease, to humans; in deer it is chronic wasting disease, CWD.] In forests polluted by heavy metals, especially lead, subsequent to war or industry, or by the fallout from atomic bomb testing or from the Chernobyl cloud, the cadaver and the skeleton of the deer can be a source of pollution, which returns directly back to the food chain. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevreuil
This last would be true of other animals and even humans. Animals and humans are actually acting as radioactive waste dumps for the fallout from weapons testing, Chernobyl, Fukushima, Sellafield-Windscale, along with other emissions from nuclear power plants and wastes. For humans, cremation and ash scattering could return it to the environment. Human burial practices in developed countries should slow the return of radionuclides to the environment, however. The bodies are often buried in vaults, usually at depth. Recall that all of the fallout dates from the 1940s to present…it is a very short window of history. Frighteningly short. Even the very young know people who were alive in this period. There are a lot of radioisotopes located in living human beings and animals — especially the bones and teeth, which may eventually return to add to environmental contamination, upon their deaths.
Although reindeer apparently would not be present near Chernobyl, they have been impacted by Chernobyl and other fallout in Scandinavia, Finland and elsewhere. As for the movement of the reindeer, semi-domesticated reindeer are presumably herded as far as their herder will herd them.
In Sweden: “Each Sami community has an east-west geographical grazing area (50 to 200 kilometers in length) divided into summer, spring, autumn, and winter grazing lands.” http://www.utexas.edu/courses/sami/diehtu/siida/herding/herding-sw.htm In Finland the herding area is 114,000 square kilometers. http://www.utexas.edu/courses/sami/diehtu/siida/herding/herding-fi.htm
In Alaska, “Reindeer have been observed with caribou 640 km from their home ranges“. The domesticated reindeer were re-introduced from Russia in the late 19th century. “Reindeer on the Seward Peninsula do not migrate long distances during the course of the year and are relatively sedentary. The vegetation communities and topography of the Seward Peninsula are very diverse (Swanson et al. 1985), so relatively short migrations by reindeer shift them to areas with vastly different grazing characteristics. Most of the allotted reindeer ranges on the Seward Peninsula border the ocean or large water bodies and rise up to high hills or mountains in a span of 10–15 km with varying soils and climatic conditions“. From Finstad, et. al. 2006, “Reindeer Herding in Transition: Historical and Modern Day Challenges for Alaskan Reindeer Herders“. http://reindeer.salrm.uaf.edu/resources/journal_articles/Nomadic_Peoples10(2)31-49.PDF
Native North American Reindeer are usually known as caribou.
“Some populations of the North American caribou, for example, many herds in the subspecies, the barren-ground caribou, and some woodland caribou in Ungava and Labrador, migrate the farthest of any terrestrial mammal, travelling up to 5,000 km (3,100 mi) a year, and covering 1,000,000 km2 (390,000 sq mi)… Other North American populations, the woodland caribou (boreal) for example, are largely sedentary… In Europe populations have a shorter migration. Island herds such as the subspecies R.t. pearsoni and R.t. platyrhynchus make local movements.
Normally travelling about 19–55 km (12–34 mi) a day while migrating, the caribou can run at speeds of 60–80 km/h (37–50 mph). Young caribou can already outrun an Olympic sprinter when only a day old. During the spring migration smaller herds will group together to form larger herds of 50,000 to 500,000 animals but during autumn migrations, the groups become smaller,… During the winter, reindeer travel to forested areas to forage under the snow. By spring, groups leave their winter grounds… A reindeer can swim easily and quickly, normally at 6.5 km/h (4.0 mph) but if necessary at 10 km/h (6.2 mph), and migrating herds will not hesitate to swim across a large lake or broad river.”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reindeer
[While much of the above about deer migration may seem extraneous, deer and reindeer (caribou) appear often studied for radiation, outside Chernobyl, so these may actually prove important considerations.]
Sunday 16 February 2014
Wolf vs. Fox Diet in more detail:
“The gray wolf generally specializes in vulnerable individuals of large prey. In Eurasia, many wolf populations are forced to subsist largely on livestock and garbage in areas with dense human activity, though wild ungulates such as moose, red deer, roe deer and wild boar are still the most important food sources in Russia and the more mountainous regions of Eastern Europe. Other prey species include reindeer, argali, mouflon, wisent, saiga, ibex, chamois, wild goats, fallow deer and musk deer.…Animals preferred as prey by North American wolves include moose, white-tailed deer, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, Dall’s sheep, American bison, muskox and caribou.
Although wolves primarily feed on medium to large sized ungulates, they are not fussy eaters. Smaller sized animals that may supplement the diet of wolves include marmots, hares, badgers, foxes, weasels, ground squirrels, mice, hamsters, voles and other rodents, as well as insectivores. They frequently eat waterfowl and their eggs. When such foods are insufficient, they prey on lizards, snakes, frogs, rarely toads and large insects as available. In times of scarcity, wolves readily eat carrion, visiting cattle burial grounds and slaughter houses. Cannibalism is not uncommon in wolves: during harsh winters, packs often attack weak or injured wolves, and may eat the bodies of dead pack members. Wolf packs in Astrakhan hunt Caspian seals on the Caspian Sea coastline and some wolf packs in Alaska and Western Canada have been observed to feed on salmon. Humans are rarely, but occasionally preyed upon.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_wolf (references at link)
“Red foxes are omnivores with a highly varied diet. In the former Soviet Union, up to 300 animal and a few dozen plant species are known to be consumed by them. They primarily feed on small, mouse-like rodents…Secondary prey species include birds…, leporids, porcupines, raccoons, opossums, reptiles, insects, other invertebrates and flotsam (marine mammals, fish and echinoderms). On very rare occasions, they may attack young or small ungulates. They typically target mammals up to about 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) in weight, and require 500 grams (18 oz) of food daily. Red foxes readily eat plant material and in some areas, fruit can amount to 100% of their diet in autumn. Commonly consumed fruits include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, persimmons, mulberries, apples, plums, grapes and acorns. Other plant material includes grasses, sedges and tubers.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_fox (references at link)
Some early studies near the Oak Ridge Lab in Tennessee USA found the following:
“The weekly dose rates from internal radionuclides were markedly different in muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) and cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) collected at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in August 1960 (20-1,112 mSv in muskrats vs. 3 mSv in cotton rats); the difference is probably due to differences in diets and habitats (Kaye and Dunaway 1963). Foxes and wildcats contain 2 to 16 times more 137Cs than their prey organisms such as rats and rabbits (Jenkins et al. 1969), suggesting food-chain magnification. The biological half-life of 137Cs is about 30 days in foxes, dogs, and pigs but about 60 days in humans (Jenkins et al. 1969)” Cited in Eisler, 1994. (bold added) This last point appears especially important when comparing humans and animals!
On the other hand, research shortly after Chernobyl, in Norway, indicated:
“…Cesium radioactivity in tissues and organs of the wolverine (Gulo gulo), lynx (Felis lynx), and Arctic fox (Alopex logopus) in central Norway after the Chernobyl accident was highly variable. In general, cesium-137 levels were substantially lower in these carnivores than in lower trophic levels (Ekker et al. 1990), suggesting little or no food-chain biomagnification, and at variance with results of studies of the omnivore and herbivore food chain“. (bold added) Cited in Eisler, Ronald, 1994, “Radiation Hazards to Fish, Wildlife, and Invertebrates: A Synoptic Review“, Patuxent Environmental Science Center, U.S. National Biological Service, December 1994.
Sources cited above by Eisler, 1994:
Kaye, S. V., and P. B. Dunaway. 1963. “Estimation of dose rate and equilibrium state from bioaccumulation of radionuclides by mammals“, pp. 107-111 in V. Schultz and A. W. Klement, Jr., eds, Radioecology, Reinhold, N.Y.
Jenkins, J. H., J. R. Monroe, and F. B. Golley. 1969. “Comparison of fallout 137Cs accumulation and excretion in certain southeastern mammals“, pp. 623-626 in D. J. Nelson and F. C. Evans, eds., Symposium on radioecology, Proceedings of the second national symposium.
Ekker, M., B. M. Jenssen, and K. Zahlsen, 1990, “Radiocesium in Norwegian carnivores following the Chernobyl fallout“. Page 275 in S. Myrberget, ed., Volume 1: population dynamics, Transactions of the XIXth IUGB Congress, The International Union of Game Biologists, September 1989, Trondheim, Norway.
The lynx, as discussed early on in this series, likes to eat Reindeer, and like the wolf and humans, is mostly a top level, “Apex”, predator. They also like to eat Roe Deer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx
Skuterud et. al., 2005 found that:
“Concentrations of 137Cs were determined in 747 lynxes killed in Norway during the period 1986–2001. Highly variable 137Cs concentrations…were observed, probably caused by variable 137Cs concentrations in prey and the lynx’s extensive home ranges and roaming distances. Adult lynxes had higher 137Cs concentrations than sub-adults, and lynxes killed in regions with extensive reindeer grazing areas were more contaminated than others” (Bold added; Excerpted from Abstract).
They further explain:
“The lynx is a solitary predator, preferring rugged forested terrain, with an average range in Norway of 250–1500 km2 depending on prey density…The size of lynx prey ranges from small rodents to larger cervids such as reindeer and moose. Stomach content analyses of 441 Norwegian lynxes showed that 67% had eaten cervids (mainly roe deer and reindeer), 25% small game (such as hare, capercaillie and grouse) and 8% other species (such as fox and rodents) (Sunde and Kvam, 1997). Roe deer is the favourite species…The Chernobyl fallout in Norway was highly heterogeneous” (bold added; excerpted from document). Lavrans Skuterud et. al. 2005. “Concentrations of 137Cs in lynx (Lynx lynx) in relation to prey choice, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 80, 2005.
Some research was done in the UK, shortly after Chernobyl, on the fox as the top predator in the food chain, since there were no wolves left in the UK:
“Caesium concentration factors in wild herbivores and the fox (Vulpes vulpes L) Lowe, V.P.W.; Horrill, A.D.. 1991. Environmental Pollution, 70 (2). 93-107.
A selection of wild animals was sampled in the winter of 1986/87. The sites chosen for sampling were based on information obtained from survey carried out by The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in the spring and autumn of 1986. Animals included deer, grouse, hares and rabbits, and foxes which were collected as a top carnivore in the food chain.
Variation in concentration of caesium between species from the same area was unpredictable; rabbits, for instance, never exceeded 200 Bq kg−1 (fresh wt) of 137Cs in their flesh, even when adjacent to deer forests with over 1000 Bq kg−1 in the vension. The greatest complication grose from areas of peaty uplands where the pre-Chernobyl 137Cs from weapons-testing was much higher than expected. This pre-Chernobyl contribution amounted to 630 Bq kg−1 in a red grouse from the Pennines, and 650 Bq kg−1 in a roe deer from near the Borders, being c. 60% of the total.
Concentration factors were calculated using values from freshly ingested vegetation and tissues from individual animals. Significant differences in concentration factors were found depending on species, food, sex, breeding condition and age.
Contrasting the decrease of the two caesium isotopes in roe deer from forestry on peat with those from woodlands on mineral soils, it appeared that after an initial fall in concentration, the only decrease thereafter occurred on the mineral soils.
Nowhere were radiocaesium concentrations high enough to cause concern amongst consumers of game and other wild animals, even when levels exceed 3000 Bq kg−1 (fresh wt) as they did in red deer, red grouse and the blue hare“. http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/21305/ (bold added) Notice that even though 3,000 Bq/Kg is unsafe and illegal, it should not “cause concern”!
Monday 17 February 2014
We came upon this excellent 2012 thesis by one of Birgitta Ahman’s students:
“Transfer of radiocaesium (137 Cs) to lynx (Lynx lynx) and brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Chernobyl affected areas in Sweden“, by Yury Chaiko, 2012, Master’s Thesis in Environmental Science Soil and Water Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment (SLU)
In this study, 137 Cs activity concentration was measured in 266 lynxes hunted in early spring during the years 2006-2011 in central and northern Sweden and in 161 bears hunted in the end of August until October during the years 2010 and 2011.
Highest activity concentrations of 137 Cs were observed in lynx and bear coming from counties with highest radiocaesium fallout after the Chernobyl accident. However, activity concentration of 137 Cs was higher in the animals of Norrbotten than in Värmland or Dalarna, where average deposition of the Chernobyl was at least threefold higher than that in Norrbotten.
Short-term study revealed no temporal trend of 137 Cs activity in the studied animals. Compilation of data obtained during this study with original data of 14 years study (1997-2003) conducted by Åhman et al. (2004) shown gradual decline of radiocaesium in lynx. However, the slope of decline varied substantially among the counties. Furthermore, the slope of decline tends to level off in the recent years for all counties.
No significant difference was observed in 137 Cs activity concentration between males and females of lynx and bear. Age class of lynx found to be a significant factor showing that adults tend to have higher activity concentration of 137 Cs than sub-adults. For age class of bear, the results were adverse; sub-adults had higher concentrations than adults did, although the difference was statistically insignificant.
Aggregated transfer factor (Tag) was significantly lower in bear compared to lynx, while for both bear and lynx; Tag values were significantly higher in Norrbotten than in rest of the counties. For lynx, Tag values were also significantly higher in Västerbotten than in Dalarna, Gävleborg, Jämtland, Värmland or Västernorrland. Meantime for bear, Dalarna county have shown significantly higher Tag than in Gävleborg, Jämtland, Västerbotten or Västernorrland“. http://stud.epsilon.slu.se/4798/ (bold added)
We recommend that anyone remotely interested in the topic take a look at this thesis. Both the abstract and the entire document pdf are available at the link. Although it is important to look skeptically at some secondary data regarding totals for Chernobyl and Fukushima fallout worldwide, especially data by the IAEA, there appears mostly good, solid, and often original research information in this thesis. Also, it is important to see how the author thinks through this complex topic.
One of the author’s professors, Birgitta Ahman (Sweden), along with Skuterud (Norway), seem to be the most long-term, serious, researchers on these topics. However, it must be noted that this is only for Caesium 137 and that Strontium 90, along with the very long-lived radionuclides, like plutonium, are conspicuously lacking. Elsewhere, they have noted much higher uptake of Caesium by living beings, as apparent justification. Nonetheless, it remains unclear to us why everyone doesn’t test for all radionuclides, or at least major ones, while they are testing. Some, like plutonium, accumulate over a lifetime:
“In the case of a chronic exposure, organ and body burdens continue to build up over time until a steady state is reached where losses due to decay and excretion are balanced by intake and absorption. Cesium-137 has an effective half-life in an adult of about 110 days, and under chronic exposure conditions reaches a maximal dose contribution after about 2 years. By contrast, plutonium absorbed from the gastrointestinal or respiratory tract enters the blood stream and deposits in liver and bone with an effective half-life of 20 to 50 years. Only a small fraction of plutonium entering the blood stream is excreted in urine…” https://marshallislands.llnl.gov/glossary.php
Some additional highlights, relevant to our post, from this wonderful 48 page thesis by Yury Chaiko, 2012:
“Aggregated transfer factor (Tag) is another way to calculate transfer factors, and is simply the relation of 137 Cs activity concentration in meat (Bq) to the concentration per square meter of soil. Aggregated transfer factors for game animals, similar to soil-plant transfer factors, show strong temporal and spatial variation. Such aspects as animal diet, seasonality, density and homogeneity of radiocaesium deposition contribute dramatically to the end Tag value.”
“In general, forests are very complex natural ecosystems. Complexity is not only built on vegetation diversity, animal and other species presence, but also on their direct and indirect interactions. Multiple food chains and trophic levels with low human disturbance make this ecosystem quite different from any other…Unfortunately, some parts of this complex system favor the preservation of some radionuclides, having similar physiochemical properties as vital nutrients such as K and Ca (Bergman, 1994)….The forms of 137 Cs in the forest soil might differ depending on its location“…Organic matter, OM “is decomposed by microbial and fungal activity gradually releasing cesium back to the media. Therefore, presence of the OM in boreal forests is one of the major key points of Cs mobility…The other factor determining cesium mobility in the soil is presence of nutrients available for plants. It is widely known that forest soils are nutrient poor. Therefore, a plant lacking essential nutrients, such as K, uptake elements that have similar characteristics – 137 Cs. Uptake of 137 Cs by plants or fungi redistribute it above ground afterwards as a secondary contamination (Giannakopoulos et al., 2011). As a result, this facilitates long-term cesium cycling in the forest ecosystem.”
“Contaminated vegetation, mushrooms and lichens are primary food for all herbivores and omnivores. Feeding on contaminated herbivores thus results in exposure also to carnivores.”
“There have been numerous studies to assess transfer factors from soil to plants, plants to animals. However, quite large uncertainty is related to the soil-plant-animal dynamics of radiocaesium and other radionuclides.”
“Agricultural land is by far a less complex ecosystem than a forest. Agricultural land is continuously disturbed by human agricultural activities. As a result, an upper organic layer is absent, contrary to a forest ecosystem, which is why nuclides are distributed directly in the upper soil layer at time of deposition. In case of crops growing, at time of deposition, a majority of contaminants will be deposited on the plants, while the amount of intercepted nuclides depends on the leave area index (LAI). The remaining part of deposition will eventually be brought down to the soil by physical weathering or with plant residues. Lack of multilayers or storeys in agricultural ecosystem presumes reduced time of nuclide redistribution to soil from plant.
Due to periodically improving of physiochemical properties of arable soils by cultivation and fertilization, agricultural ecosystems have higher nutrient levels than forest soils. Therefore, as long as 137 Cs is present in soil in cationic form, – higher pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC), clay content, mineral and oxide presence will decrease mobility of radiocaesium and in turn reduce uptake of nuclides by plants….Because of ploughing, radionuclides migrate deeper in to the arable soil than they do in forest soil….Variation of migration speed mainly depends on soil properties… However, nuclides can be found down to 20 cm depth already after first soil cultivation (Shaw and Bell, 2001)“.
Although the lynx is the third largest predator in Sweden, after the wolf and bear, due to low wolf population, it is the second most common (excluding humans).
“Density of the prey and its composition seems to be the major factors defining lynx prey choice. Lynx feeds on prey ranging from the size of a mouse to a moose. However, preferable prey is small to medium sized ungulates.”
Lynx radioactivity from 137 Cs varied from 11 Bq per kg to 6,750 Bq per kg. Variation occurred both within and between counties: “In general, highest activity concentrations of 137 Cs are found in lynx from the areas most affected by the Chernobyl fallout“…Nonetheless, it is “evident from the data analysis that animals coming from the same county with relatively homogeneous ground deposition areas have substantial variation of radiocaesium levels. That, in turn, suggests presence of other factors influencing levels 137 Cs activity concentration in lynx…Further analysis of age class showed that adults had significantly higher activity concentration of 137 Cs than sub-adults…”
“Based on previous studies, diet of lynx is an important factor affecting 137 Cs accumulation in their muscle tissue…Density of the prey has direct as well as indirect effects on home range and diet of the lynx. Dense population of prey reduce lynx effort to find the food while sparse availability force lynx to increase home range and ingestion variability of radiocaesium activity concentrations (Odden et al., 2006). On the other hand, low density of prey …increases importance of smaller animals and birds such as hare, capercaillie or black grouse (Odden, 2006)…137 Cs activity concentration in those animals and birds are expected to be considerably lower due to the feeding preferences and habitat areas (Johanson, 1994)”.
“Apart from lynx diet, a significant factor affecting accumulation of 137 Cs in their body is due to the diet and habitat area of their prey. Animals feeding on the mineral soil have low activity concentrations of radiocaesium comparing to those feeding on peats… In addition, many animals that lynx prey on have access to arable land where activity concentrations of 137 Cs in plants are significantly lower than in natural ecosystems (Åhman et al., 2004)“…Thus, “Factors governing 137 Cs transfer to lynx are primarily those applied for herbivores, -seasonality, diet and ground deposition. Seasonality has direct and indirect effect on radiocaesium accumulation in the lynx body.”
On the Brown Bear:
Estimated brown bear ranges are 200-500 km2 for females and 1000-1500 km2 for males…”Muscle tissue accumulates about 10-50% higher activity concentration of radiocaesium than organs and other tissues (Åhman et al., 2004)…Measurements have shown that brown bear tend to have significantly lower values of 137 Cs activity concentration than lynx (P<0.005). Furthermore, variation of activity concentration is noticeably lower for bear comparing to that of lynx. Similar to lynx, highest radiocaesium activity concentrations were found in animals coming from the areas most affected by Chernobyl's fallout…” Nonetheless, the highest concentration of 137 Cs activity in the brown bear is three times lower than in the lynx…”Data analysis revealed that county as factor has a significant effect on transfer rates of radiocaesium to the bear…” However, the study found that concentration of 137 Caesium varies within, as well as between, counties. Furthermore, “The factors governing concentration of 137 Cs in bear are similar to those for lynx: diet, ground deposition, seasonality and home ranges.” Deposition of fallout “appears to be the most significant factor effecting radiocaesium level in bears. Due to the large home ranges of up to 1500 km 2 or higher, concentration of 137 Cs in food consumed by the bears” varies significantly… Additionally the diet is closely linked to season of the year… prior to “hibernation bears gain up to 40% of extra weight that they receive from carbohydrate-rich berries. To obtain such increase of body weight, bears need to eat significantly more of berries than if they were eating flesh, which in turn would probably contribute to the increase of 137 Cs concentration in their body. Moreover, while most of 137 Cs accumulates in muscles, increase in weight is based on fat storage, which would increase radiocaesium activity concentration in muscles… The diet of brown bear in spring is dominated by ungulates, which quite certainly raise biological half-life to number of days observed for carnivores (20-30 days). In summer period, when preferences of bear’s diet laying towards forbs and berries, with further dominance of berries in autumn, biological half-life will probably shorten to 7-20 days as it is for the most of herbivores…”
“In general, 137 Cs activity concentration in bears follows similar pattern as that in lynx being higher in counties with higher average deposition of radiocaesium… However, bear tend to have lower levels of radiocaesium than lynx…” The author, Chaiko, notes that similar sizes of home range (200-1500 km2) for bear and lynx, might suggest that mobility has “a relatively low influence on 137 Cs accumulation [when] comparing the diets of the animals.” Interestingly, the maximum values of 137 Caesium in bears can be twenty times higher than the minimum, found in the same county or region. The primary reason for this is the heterogenous or patchy nature of the 137 Caesium.
Chaiko concludes that “This study has shown how complex and unpredictable the natural system is in relation to 137 Cs retention. Decline of radiocaesium in the forest ecosystem is continuous; however, a significant amount of evidence, including this study, points out that slope of decrease is leveling off. That, in turn, would mean that in the future most of 137 Cs loss would be due to the physical decay of the element“.
“However, deposition of Chernobyl’s 137 Cs alone, in the north Sweden, would probably not give such high activity concentrations in animals. That implies that part of the former fallout from the NW tests is still available for the animals or there is an unknown to us source of air born radiocaesium contaminating higher altitudes of the earth. These uncertainties might be a topic for further research“.
“Variation of the data was the most limiting factor in this study… Presumably, a dominant part of the variation is caused by the heterogeneous nature of Chernobyl’s deposition, which is why it is important to count for deposition on smaller than county scale…”
Given the results for lynx and bear, both of which have similar home ranges, “it may be concluded that diet of the animals is more important for the activity concentration of 137 Cs in their body than home ranges. Additionally, difference between home ranges of 500 km 2 and 1500 km 2 has probably similar effect on 137 Cs activity concentration in animals, since heterogeneous distribution is already present at scale of square meters“.
“Finally, it is quite evident that the most significant factors affecting 137 Cs level in lynx are habitat area, defined by presence of herding reindeer, age class and deposition rate of 137 Cs. For bear, seasonality, which is closely linked to bear’s diet, along with radiocaesium deposition habitat area, are likely to be governing factors determining activity concentration of 137 Cs in it“. All bold added by us for emphasis. The thesis in its entirety (48 pages) may be found here: http://stud.epsilon.slu.se/4798/ We have summarized-extracted from the thesis, to the best of our ability, some excerpts to better illustrate the complexities of radionuclides in the environment and their impact on plants and animals. As can be seen, trying to understand this requires complex multivariate analysis. Obviously, these excerpts cannot do justice to this wonderful thesis in its entirety, but we hope are helpful in thinking about variation in contamination levels.
When examining the above, recall that Caesium mimics potassium in the body: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09355.html
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Skuterud et. al., 2005 observed:
“Since 21% of the municipalities where lynxes were killed have areas of less than 400 km2, and 70% less than 1200 km2, many lynxes will have home ranges extending beyond one municipality, and can even cross whole municipalities during one day’s roaming. Furthermore, average deposition densities between neighbouring municipalities are up to a factor of 15–20 different (Backe et al., 1986) … Even lynxes living within the borders of one municipality may experience considerable heterogeneity in 137Cs deposition.”
They note that their “study did not give clear indications of specialization in prey species, but unambiguous conclusions were possibly prevented by the variability introduced by the heterogeneous Chernobyl deposition (causing variable 137Cs concentrations in prey) and the lynxes’ considerable roaming distances, and the uncertainty in estimated 137Cs deposition densities.” From “Concentrations of 137Cs in lynx (Lynx lynx) in relation to prey choice” by Lavrans Skuterud et. al., Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 80, 2005, pp. 125–138.
Some General Conclusions
Møller and Mousseau have opted for the very straight forward quantitative evaluation of counting animals (for mammals their tracks) versus external radiation, in their research. Their findings indicate a negative correlation between animal abundance and radiation, in both Ukraine and Belarus, meaning that the higher the level of radiation the fewer animals present: “The negative relationships between abundance and radiation were present in mammals, birds, bumblebees, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and spiders (Møller and Mousseau, 2007a, 2009a,b)” (Møller and Mousseau, 2013)
Møller and Mousseau, 2013, found that although the abundance of mammals, in general, decreased with level of external radiation, some were more impacted than others. The largest negative effect was on the fox, whereas the wolf was the least impacted.
They conclude that “(1) there were many more mammals in less contaminated areas independent of the statistical model, (2) species differed significantly in this response to radiation with some showing sharp decreases in abundance, while others did not,…” (Møller and Mousseau, 2013)
The fact that their simple, straight-forward, research shows so clearly the devastating impacts of ionizing radiation on living beings, indicates that the negative impact of ionizing radiation is over-whelming to life.
The more subtle differences in species have their rootedness in the complexities of cause and effect, as do the difficulties in trying to unravel the causes. The complexities of cause and effect, are especially important, and problematic, when dealing with living beings, whether in the biological sciences or social sciences. (More may be read about Multivariate relationships – multiple causes, intervening variables here: http://www.stat.ufl.edu/~winner/sta6126/chapter10.ppt)
As we have seen, external exposure to ionizing radiation would depend on things like size of range in conjunction with patchiness of radionuclide contamination; recent precipitation and impacts of precipitation and weather over time; type of precipitation; activity of the animal in daytime or night, and probably height from the ground, especially for nocturnal animals. Although clean snowfall may be protective, contaminated snowfall would appear to make things worse. An increasingly contaminated world will make snowfall lose its potential protectiveness and make it, rather, an additional source of contamination.
The internal exposure to ionizing radiation would also indirectly depend on size of range, because of variations in food contamination by radionuclides. Size and range location of the food source itself is also a variable. Additionally, there are questions of radionuclide uptake by the animal, as well as by its food source, whether plant or animal. Assuming no new radionuclide contamination (now an increasingly false assumption), Cesium and Strontium, with half-lives of about 30 years, will decline in the environment within a lifetime. Many radionuclides have gone no where and are simply accumulating in the environment (and in bodies) over the last 70 plus years. For some reason, most research likes to dance around this fact and simply doesn’t mention plutonium, americium or the others with mind-bogglingly long half-lives.
Radionuclides will generally work their way deeper into the soil and spread throughout the environment over time. Movement depends upon precipitation; radionuclide involved; soil type; proximity to aquifers and waterways, etc. Export of food and forestry products from the region (and even manure) will remove some contamination from the area, but make it someone else’s problem. Waterways and wind can also carry away contamination, making it someone else’s problem. This activity, in conjunction with a “dilute and disperse” mindset, eventually pollutes the entire world. With constantly increasing pollution it will no longer be diluted, only evenly dispersed so that all are contaminated-poisoned equally. There is no safe dose, so why are nuclear power plants allowed to emit radiation even within defined limits? How can the risk of another accident be acceptable? The odds of another accident occurring soon are considered pretty high. While studying living beings is an almost hopelessly complex task, due to the number of variables involved, evidence provided by Møller and Mousseau is overwhelming in its clarity, as to the devastating impacts of ionizing radiation.
We’ve too many radionuclides contaminating the earth already. It must be stopped. Whether or not some natural radiation causes cancer or is beneficial in some way doesn’t really matter because we are way past that. It is worth recalling, as well, that while some sun is beneficial in providing vitamin D, no one doubts (unless this too has been rewritten ) that it can cause sunburn and causes genetic damage which can lead to skin cancer.
Additionally, we cannot forget the ability of some of the radionuclides, such as plutonium, caesium and strontium to disrupt basic biological functions by displacing crucial elements. Caesium, for instance, causes dysfunction by displacing the critically important element of potassium in the body.
There are many variables which come into play in determining radionuclide exposure, whether external or internal, and its impact. Nonetheless, for researchers to study why and how some individuals or species are more impacted than others is a waste of time. It is a false research trail, as long as the nuclear industry continues to exist and, by definition, radionuclides continue to accumulate in the environment. It is a false issue until Fukushima is properly addressed. It is a false issue and false trail, because as radionuclides increasingly accumulate in the environment, all will be increasingly exposed both internally and externally, and all will be highly impacted. If the nuclear madness is not stopped promptly, all will die, except perhaps a resistant bacteria. The question is only when.