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A number of studies in the respected Oxford journal Journal of Heredity report that the Fukushima nuclear disaster has caused genetic damage and population decline in a wide array of plants and animals around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants, which suffered a triple meltdown in March of 2011.
One study compared abnormalities found near the Fukushima plants to abnormalities found near Chernobyl. For example, partially albino barn swallows have been found in both locations after their respective nuclear disasters. The author states that wild animal studies
have demonstrated significant genetic, physiological, developmental, and fitness effects stemming from exposure to radioactive contaminants.
It is presumed that most of these effects have an underlying genetic basis although in some cases, direct toxicity cannot be ruled out.
Genetic damage is, of course, more troubling, as these effects may be permanent.
The author notes that, similar to Chernobyl, half as many species and a third the total number of birds were found in highly contaminated areas,
with the strength of the negative relationship between abundance and radiation significantly stronger in Fukushima when comparing the 14 bird species that were common to both regions.
In his conclusion, the author tells us recent studies
suggest many small and large effects on biological systems from molecules to ecosystems that will likely influence ecosystem form and function for decades to centuries to come.
As an article in Russia Today on the reports concludes, after discussing additional studies of butterflies and rice,
The findings raise fears over the long-term effects of radiation on people who faced exposure in the days and weeks following the disaster.