Birds may show Japan nuclear disaster's global effects

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Lessons from Chernobyl could help define the effect of radiation from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant on global bird populations, according to a Savannah River Ecology Lab scientist.

Brisbin  Special

"We'll be going over what we did almost exactly 25 years ago," said senior research professor emeritus I. Lehr Brisbin.

During the American Ornithologists' Union's meeting in Florida later this month, Brisbin hopes to organize a workshop on how Japan's crisis might affect migratory birds.

Radiation from Chernobyl was found in many parts of the world in birds that traveled through the site's exclusion zone, he said, and birds flying along Japan's coastline could be similarly affected.

Radioecologists trying to define the extent of species mutations or population changes will need good data on bird migration routes.

"Since Chernobyl, one thing we've learned is that you must have an ornithologist at the table," Brisbin said. "They may not know about cesium or gamma rays, but they know where birds fly."

Studies found birds contaminated in Chernobyl winter in North Africa, the Mediterranean and southern Europe.

The Fukushima incident, Brisbin said, also underscores the need for education programs in radioecology, the study of how radiation affects the environment.

As a discipline, radioecology opportunities increased after Chernobyl, aided by research at Savannah River Site, but have dwindled in recent years.

"When Chernobyl boomed, radioecology bloomed," Brisbin said. "It's a shame we always have to wait for an accident before we start preparing ourselves in a field we've forgotten about."

SRS is also home to a new consortium aimed at creating opportunities to study how radiation affects plants and animals. Formed in January, the National Center for Radio­ecology is a partnership that includes - in addition to Savan­nah River National Laboratory and SREL - the Uni­versity of South Carolina, Clemson University, Oregon State University, Duke University and Colorado State Uni­ver­sity , along with the In­ter­national Radioecology Labor­atory of the Chernobyl Cen­ter in Ukraine and France's Insti­tute for Radiological Pro­tection and Nuclear Safety.

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soldout 07/11/11 - 11:31 pm
Whether it is radiation or

Whether it is radiation or from fires or other sources many seem effected each time a front comes through. By placing a bowl of water outside for 24 hours you can get a sample of the air that you can muscle test. If there is a problem you can get rid of the sinus type problem using naet rather than more drugs and taking several days to recover. If your immune system is weak the next front that comes through may effect you again. Sometimes this bad air can creates fatigue. It even effected my garden and I was able to do a naet treatment on it and it greatly improved; whether through the naet or not I can't be sure.

TK3 07/12/11 - 07:28 am
And what if any effect has

And what if any effect has the radiation been shown to have on the birds in the past and now ???????????????????????????????????????????????

copperhead 07/12/11 - 08:00 am
There was no damage caused by

There was no damage caused by radiation leaks in japan. Nuclear radiation is safe-it's all a bunch od horse hockey. You could live inside the japanese reactors they are so safe. Don't happy!

gaspringwater 07/12/11 - 09:24 am
It's not just migratory birds

It's not just migratory birds that'll carry Fukushima's radiation far and wide. High altitude winds will carry it to the US mainland. Trace amounts have already been found in Washington state's water, milk and building air filters. Remember the WWII Japanese balloon bombs that traveled across the Pacific to North America's west coast and one even traveled as far east as Detroit.

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