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Small Doses of Radiation Upset the Balance of Microelements
before March 9, 2006

 

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident is the largest technogenic catastrophe in the history of mankind. Those who have taken part in its recovery have, among other things, suffered the long-term effect of small doses of radiation. The scientists still argue about the effect of weak ionizing radiation on Chernobyl disaster liquidators’ health. Research group of RAS Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics, RAS Moscow Physiology Institute and Saint Petersburg Centre of Emergency and Medical Radiology has estimated the effect of irradiation on the balance of micro and macroelements and came out with the conclusion that all organisms have serious malfunction of biochemical functions.
 

Weak ionizing radiation has no immediate noticeable effect on human health. It gradually causes weak biological effects, which slowly accumulate. An organism resist them to the best of its ability, thus functional disorders have no well defined symptoms, and doctors do not consider many chronic diseases to be consequent to irradiation that has happened ages ago. Studying the consequences of irradiation, the scientists have kept in mind that ionizing radiation interacts with atoms and molecules of the living cells, including metals. And metal cations are parts of many enzymes and biologically active molecules, e.g. hemoglobin. Such proteins are very sensitive to irradiation and changes in their activity are observed years after the irradiation. Thus when evaluating health of Chernobyl disaster liquidators, the scientists have concentrated on the content of some metals in the organism; changes in the balance of microelements indicate serious malfunction of biochemical functions.
 

Thirty four men aged from 35 to 59n years, who have worked on Chernobyl NPP during 1986-1987, have taken part in the experiments. The scientists have measured concentrations of copper, zinc, iron and some other microelements, including toxic ones, in their blood serum and hair. Microelements usually accumulate in human hair and thus are removed from an organism, and metal-containing enzymes can be found in blood serum. Blood serum and hair of healthy people were used as control samples.
 

Concentrations of toxic microelements – lead, cadmium and aluminum – stayed within physiological standards, but copper, zinc and manganese concentrations were extremely low. Copper deficiency encourages oxidizing processes in an organism; arterial walls become frail and iron fails to be digested. It’s of no surprise that liquidators have iron metabolism malfunction. These people need to take copper-containing drugs, but their proteins fail to bind it, so copper accumulates in the brain, liver and kidneys. That’s very bad.
 

Zinc deficiency leads to many abnormalities – metabolism malfunctions, failures in synthesis and decomposition of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and nucleic acids. Zinc is necessary for immune system normal activity, it influences lymphocyte’s functions. Liquidators’ blood serum and hair lack magnesium, which is vital for brain and almost every stage of working with genetic information – from DNA duplication to protein synthesis. Not only amounts of microelements are important for normal organism vital activity, but also their ratios that are shifted in irradiated people. This results in changes in the concentrations of two most important elements – sulphur and phosphorus.
 

Thus small doses of ionizing radiation have long-term effects of metabolic malfunctions – fertile ground for development of many diseases.
 


Tags: Chernobyl     

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