When radioactive material finds its way to the air, its effects spell doom for animal, plant and human life. Nuclear disasters which lead to such radiations include accidents in nuclear facilities like government facilities, nuclear plants and industrial facilities, detonation of nuclear weapons and transportation accidents. Radiation is a matter of public concern because we cannot ignore the fact that these incidents and accidents have negative impacts on our environment.
Livestock especially suffers from radioactive emissions more than anything else. We still remember the Fukushima disaster in Japan which exposed cattle to toxic levels of radioactive material that affected its offspring too. In this article, we shall take a look at the top 10 effects of radioactive emissions of livestock. Here we go.
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10. Offspring tend to contain more radioactive emissions than their mothers
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PLOS ONE published an article after the Fukushima nuclear power plant to reiterate the nature of radioactive materials as it was evidenced in livestock nearby the nuclear plant that blew up. It showed that the calves of 79 cattle that contained cesium, tellurium and silver radioactive material in trace amounts contained concentrations 1.5 times more than their respective mothers. The calves’ muscles had the heaviest concentration that any other part of the body.
9. Skin damage
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Unlike cattle, mules and horses, hogs and sheep do not handle beta radiations very well. Since they have thin hides, the contamination gets caught in the wool causing the skin to fall off. These effects of radioactive emissions on livestock depend on the amount of beta radiation it is exposed to. Larger doses cause development of scaly areas full of dandruff that heal after some days leaving a smooth hairless skin.
8. Weakened muscles
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This is by far one of the most deadly effects of radioactive emissions on livestock. It occurs when a perfect mix of both beta and gamma radiations reach the muscular tissues of livestock. Cattle and mules show weak muscles, especially at their hind quarters. The dosage also determines the extent of damage; some studies have actually shown that the least amount of gamma radiations can cause weakened muscles.
7. Damage to the digestive system
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The effects of radioactive emissions on livestock are sometimes indirect. These animals are not exposed but end up ingesting the radioactive material. This food tends to settle in the pockets located in the digestive tract causing irradiation on its lining. This causes fatal damage in the rumen, abomasums, cecum and even in the stomachs of mules and horses and the large intestines of hogs. It is simply a nature of radioactive emissions.
6. Tissue distraction
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Distraction of body tissues is among the deadly effects of radioactive emissions on livestock. When tissues are destroyed, life becomes almost impossible. Weight loss, blood loss, weak muscles, loss of appetite, failure of vital organs follows and even if death doesn’t occur immediately, we will be left with a weak and damaged animal which will die eventually.
5. Decreased productivity
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Severe beta radioactive emissions have been known to negatively affect the productivity of livestock. This normally occurs after a severe external beta dose of even after the recovery from the gamma dose effects. Cold climates are worse because the body’s ability to regulate temperature is impaired due to hair loss.
4. Weight loss
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Wintering sheep and beef cattle experience considerable weight loss after exposure to radioactive emissions which boil over to their calves that do not get enough milk. Dairy cows may have something to give their offspring but the high producing animals tend to dry up completely. Lambs and cattle on feed show little weight gains which are only fourth to normal.
3. Respiratory failures
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By now you realize that the nature of radioactive emissions is to affect the major body organs of livestock. The respiratory system is not an exception as the rays eat into it as well. After a few days of exposure, cattle and mules develop breathing problems and other associated issues. When the lungs completely fail, death always follows.
2. Failed immune system
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Skin sores that come about as a result of beta radioactive emissions have adverse effects on livestock. These tend to increase susceptibility to some pests, disease, flies and external parasites. In some animals, the skin never heals completely hence as time passes the body has to find ways of ‘surviving’ without a strong skin.
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The nature of radioactive emissions is to damage the cell tissue of the living organism exposed to radiation. Gamma rays tend to cause death within 20 days of exposure. The signs are not evident from the first day but radiation sickness soon catches up causing the animal to have weak hind legs, develop depression, increased thirst and decrease in appetite. Just before death occurs, severe blood loss that happens through the gut accompanied by weight loss swelling behind the legs.
So there you have it. The nature of radioactive emissions is to damage not only property only but also the normal functioning of livestock. Thankfully, most nations have stepped up their efforts of ensuring safety from nuclear disasters so we can relax and watch our livestock live in a safer environment. Before you go, we would love to hear from you in the comment section below. Also kindly find time to read through some of the interesting reads on this site.