No sperm impact for bulls from Fukushima radiation, study finds

Oct 09, 2013
A construction worker walks near water tanks at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture, Japan on June 12, 2013

The testes and sperm count of bulls abandoned in the evacuation zone around the battered Fukushima nuclear plant were not affected by chronic exposure to radiation, a Japanese academic study has found.

The finding provides crucial data to scientists and public policy advisers on the possible impact on humans of reactor meltdowns.

A team of researchers examined two bulls found in September 2011 and January 2012 within a 20-kilometre (12-mile) radius of the plant, an area that was completely evacuated because of fears to public health.

They also looked at a male foetus from the area to help determine the effects of prolonged radiation exposure associated with the disaster, the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

"Since the testis is a relatively radio-sensitive organ, we considered that radiation exposure would lead to changes in the morphology or the function of this organ," the study noted.

Researchers from Tohoku University and other schools found concentrations of caesium 134 and caesium 137, substances of concern because of their relatively slow rates of decay, were broadly similar in all organs, but were sharply higher in muscles.

"Radioactivity concentration of in the testis was about more than half of that in the skeletal muscle and the level was the same as in other organs," it said.

Examination of the bull's showed their total number and their structure and size were normal.

"Adverse radiation-induced effects were not observed" following of up to 10 months.

The researchers expect the study will shed light on the risks Fukushima's radiation poses to reproductive health, but said the size of their sample meant further investigation would be required before any definitive conclusions could be reached.

The study was published online Tuesday in Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed journal from the publishers of the respected Nature.

Thousands of animals were left behind when farmers and residents fled the area around the Fukushima power plant in the days after the March 2011 tsunami struck.

While those that were confined in buildings invariably died, many others went feral and roamed over a large area, free from any human interference.

Scientists say cattle would have received high doses of radiation by eating and drinking contaminated plants and water in large volumes.

Caesium levels found in the organs of the bulls and the foetus were mostly well above the official limit for consumption, currently set at 100 becquerels per kilogramme (2.2 pounds).

The researchers are conducting other studies to analyse whole genome sequences among bulls in the evacuation zone and foetuses obtained by fertilisation using sperm from bulls in the zone.

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan to boost surveys off Fukushima: report

Sep 14, 2013

Japan's nuclear authority plans to conduct radiation contamination surveys at 600,000 points on the seabed off the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, up from 200 places so far, a report said Saturday.

TEPCO: Record high radiation level found in fish

Jan 18, 2013

A fish contaminated with radiation levels more than 2,500 times the legal limit has been caught near Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, its operator said Friday.

Nuclear contamination found beyond Japan no-go zone

Oct 05, 2011

High levels of radioactive contamination have been found in soil in the capital of Japan's Fukushima prefecture, a study showed Wednesday, prompting calls to make the area a voluntary evacuation zone.

No health risk from Fukushima radiation, UN says

May 31, 2013

Radiation leaked after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 is unlikely to cause any ill health effects in the future, a UN scientific committee drawing up a major new report said Friday.

Record radiation in fish off Japan nuclear plant

Aug 21, 2012

A pair of greenlings have shown the highest level of radioactive caesium detected in fish and shellfish caught in waters off Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, its operator said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Nov 21, 2014

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

Nov 21, 2014

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

Nov 20, 2014

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

triplehelix
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 09, 2013
The sky is falling!!!...Oh wait, everything was fine? Fukushima didn't put out that much radioactivity in the grand scheme of things? But Japan still turned off all Nuclear power anyway.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.