Mutations in Chernobyl

There are many places on Earth that remain unknown to humans. Some of them are inaccessible from the physical standpoint, like Mariana Trench, but humans work on the ways of reaching this mysterious spot. Nevertheless, there are places which scare people away. One of such spots is Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Chernobyl Disaster Mutations

The Chernobyl disaster has left a non-erasable trace on Earth. Its exclusion zone scares people away for more than 30 years with its high radiation background. People are terrified by the mutations which can be caused by radiation, and not in vain.

We hear a lot of stories about wildlife mutations happening in the exclusion zone, and there are even photo proofs of animals with two heads and one body, or plants of enormous size. However, all these photos that went viral on the Internet turned out to be tricked.

Chernobyl Mutations: Myths and Reality

We decided to debunk some myths you may have heard about the Chernobyl exclusion mutations, so in this article, you will find veritable information concerning 5 widespread myths about mutations.

1.     Trips to Chernobyl Result in Mutations

There is a myth circling around: tours to the exclusion zone are dangerous. Well, they, obviously, are very risky, but only in case you don’t follow the safety rules. Independent tours to the zone are prohibited because only licensed companies can provide tourists with all the necessary protection equipment and safe routes.

Is It Safe?

The exclusion zone now is comparatively safe even if you stay there without protection equipment, but there are some spots with high radiation levels. Tourists are not allowed into these spots, so you can be sure that you will not experience any mutation during or after a trip to the exclusion zone.

  1. Chernobyl Mutations in Humans

What scares us the most is the mutations we can face. You know by now that no genetic transformation can happen to you during a tour to the exclusion zone, but what about the stories concerning people whose genetic code mutated after the explosion?

Truth be told, no creepy visible transformation was ever recorded. We saw what radiation makes to the skin and the body in general, but it cannot be called a mutation. Scientists report only two major influences radiation had on humans.

What Happened?

The first alternation is visible through the hair and eyes color. Radiation affected the genes responsible for the color of our hair and eyes, so more children born after the disaster have blond hair and blue eyes.

The second alternation is more dangerous, but you will not see it in any photo. We are referring to the increasing amount of cancer cases after the explosion. The change in genetic code resulted in an increasing amount of cells predisposed to cancer in human bodies. Scientists are trying to find an answer to this challenge of our time.

3.     Plants Genetic Alternations

Among all myths, this one is probably the closest to the truth. We all know about the Red Forest in the exclusion zone: it was an ordinary forest that turned red just hours after the explosion. Some scientists believe: the plants there consumed the majority of radiation and, thus, saved many lives.

However, this is the only manifestation of plants’ genetic alternations that can be seen with bare eyes. All photos with flowers reaching the height of trees are tricked.

Plants Weren’t Affected?

Not exactly. There are genetic transformation spotted, but they are hidden inside the plants. Vegetation consumes radiation and adapts its genes to it: the amount of radionuclides in the exclusion zone plants is much higher than normal.

4.     Chernobyl Mutations Fish

There was a story on the Internet that, in the cooling pond, tourists saw a fish as big as a car. You could even see the photos of this phenomenon.  As you could expect, this turned out to be a lie, and the fish size wasn’t that big.

The fish was always big in this region, even before the nuclear power plant was built. Local fishermen say that it is the water that makes the fish so big.

Illegal Fishing

However, the failure to prove fish mutations doesn’t mean that these animal species don’t pose any threats to humans. The problem of illegal fishing is tremendous. The fish may not be as big as cars, but there is still a huge amount of radioactive elements in it, so eating Chernobyl fish is very dangerous for humans. Ukrainians are advised not to buy fish in places they cannot be sure of its provenance.

5.     Animal Genetic Modification

Chernobyl animal mutations are the most discussed topic when it comes to Chernobyl. We all saw in the Chernobyl series how the dogs and cats were extinguished, but the reason for it was not the fear of mutations. Animals are difficult to control, so there was a threat of radiation dispersal on huge territories.

Animal genetic mutations that can be proved are similar to what humans have: there are more animals with white hair and plumage. Some birds also have deformed beaks.

Fauna Revival

There was a big discussion about the fauna revival in the exclusion zone. Most animals there have specific trackers for scientists to be able to trace their movements. The discussion was kick-started after the story about a wolf that had left the exclusion zone and disappeared.

Some scientists claimed that Chernobyl mutations wolves have absorbed can be transported to other animals. Others argued that that is impossible: animals that live in the exclusion zone now are perfectly safe for everyone.

How Many Animals Are There Now?

The discussion is still ongoing. On the one side, there are some animal species that were on the edge of existence, and now they can flourish in the area of the exclusion zone. On the other site, these animals can be dangerous for other animals and for humans.

The decision must be taken based on the research, so the scientists are currently examining the genetic code of fauna in Chernobyl.

The Chernobyl disaster caused a lot of harm to humanity, but the mutations we see on some Internet resources are not a part of it. Remember to double-check all information you find before believing it.