Chernobyl alert over birth defects
23 April 2007
living around the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine have
unusually high levels of physical abnormalities and birth defects. The
International Atomic Energy Agency has suggested that the abnormalities
are caused by the impact of relocation and stress on the population,
and Timothy Mousseau, at the University of South Carolina, Columbia,
wanted to put this to the test.
and his colleagues examined 7700 barn swallows from Chernobyl and
compared them with birds from elsewhere. They found that Chernobyl’s
swallows were more likely to have tumours, misshapen toes and feather
deformities than swallows from uncontaminated parts of Europe (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0136).
don’t fully understand the consequences of low doses of radiation,”
says Mousseau. “We should be more concerned about the human population.”