22 Apr '11, 6pm
Chernobyl, 25 years later: It's not over yet. (via @OnEarthMag)
The radioactive iodine released in nuclear accidents, including the one still going on at the Fukushima complex in Japan , decays to harmless levels within a few weeks. Other byproducts of nuclear energy, though, including radioactive cesium, remain potent for decades. That’s why the area around the plant was evacuated -- but not before hundreds of thousands of people were exposed. Many of them have almost certainly gotten, or may still get, other forms of cancer as a result of the accident. However, says the report: "It is impossible to assess reliably, with any precision, numbers of fatal cancers caused by radiation exposure due to the Chernobyl…. Small differences in the assumptions concerning radiation risks can lead to large differences in the predicted health consequences, which are therefore highly uncertain." The best anyone can give is a ballpark estimate.