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Nuclear Weapons and Health

Written by Mahee Mishra

Edited by Shania Sheth and Jocelyn Wang


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Hi everyone! This article on nuclear weapons and its impact on human health is the second article in our Environmental Health series, where we discuss how the environment affects the health of us all. Happy Reading!

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In our world today, nuclear weapons have become increasingly more common. The rise of nuclear weapons began in the summer of 1945 with the nuclear explosion in New Mexico. The damages were catastrophic: a multitude of casualties, toxic elements penetrating into the environment and radiation. This disaster continued with the drop of an atomic bomb during World War One over two of Japan’s biggest cities: Hiroshima and only three days later, at Nagasaki. This resulted in a great loss for Japan, but that did not stop any of the ‘superpowers’** to put a stop to this practice. Moreover, this ruined cities and had devastating consequences for the health of people living in the area.


**The superpowers were the countries who won World War One (United States and the Soviet Union), who dominated world affairs.


As a result of these nuclear weapons, the environment was filled with heavy contamination. This varied with different types such as debris and radioactive contaminants. These contaminants can easily find a way into water pipes, leading to ruined soil, groundwater, and most importantly, harming the health of living beings. However, these contaminations do not necessarily have to be combined with water. They can also be present in the air through chemical vapors. After nuclear weapons are used in objects such as atomic bombs, radioactive materials can also remain in the environment even after decades pass. For example, the cities in Japan that experienced nuclear bombs, after World War II, are still radioactive to this day despite of the bombing having occurred seventy-seven years ago.



Apart from nuclear weapons themselves, nuclear weapon testing can have a severe impact on all living beings. While creating nuclear weapons, workers can be exposed to dangerous chemicals such as Radon-222 (created through uranium mine processes, which is the extraction of uranium ores from the ground), an element known to be the cause of lung cancer. It is estimated by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) that exposure to radioactive materials, such as Radon-222, has resulted in 2.4 million deaths per year due to either lung cancer or other cancers.


Clearly, there are a multitude of severe negative effects of radiation and nuclear weapons than the ones stated above. There is a clear trend of death and life-threatening diseases with the use of these weapons. This can be prevented by refraining from using these weapons altogether. There should be a stronger emphasis on protecting the lives of all living beings and preventing the catastrophic implications of nuclear weapons.

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Thanks for reading the second article in our environmental health series. We hope you learned about the implications of nuclear weapons on human health, and how certain toxins can be dangerous and deadly to us all.


If you liked reading this article, check out the first article in our Environmental Health series, the Dangers of Vaping, written by Emma Wolman.


Until the next article,

Mahee and the Writing Committee :)


Sources:

A brief history of nuclear weapons states. Asia Society. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://asiasociety.org/education/brief-history-nuclear-weapons-states


Nuclear weapons are a health issue. Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://www.wpsr.org/why-we-work-on-nuclear-weapons


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