The Most Dangerous Place On Earth

“55.6781° N, 60.7996° E” Those are the coordinates. The most polluted place on earth.

Lake Karachay in the ural mountains (Russia) is widely regarded as the most polluted place on earth. In 1990 scientists discovered that standing on the shore for just 60 minutes would be enough to deliver 600 doses of Roentgen. Way more than the amount it takes to kill a fully grown human male.

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So why does this random lake in Ural mountains contain so much radioactive waste? 
It is located near the Mayak Association (one of the largest nuclear facilities in all of Russia). In 1990 it was uncovered that the Mayak Association dumped a lot of nuclear waste into the nearby river and often experienced leaks. These leaks caused many problems in the nearby cities and villages. Since 1990, medical professionals/scientists have noticed a 25% increase in birth defects and and overall 41% increase in leukemia in the entire region. The government has since filled in the lake with concrete and water flowing upstream is still undrinkable.

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Picture of the now destroyed Mayak Assocation

So how does radiation affect the environment? 

Radiation affects the environment in a plethora of different ways. Aside from affected humans by causing an increase in Cancer and birth defects, an excess amount of radiation negatively impacts the local plant life. In chernobyl (Lake Karachay) many plants completely died (especially pine trees). While natural radiation (such as that provided by the sun) benefits plants (as it is necessary for photosynthesis to occur), ionized radiation (such as that which comes from nuclear factories/plants) is actually detrimental to plant growth. Ionized radiation weakens the structural integrity of seeds. It also can cause frequent mutations to occur. Radiation also impacts animal life negatively. After 30 years since Chernobyl has been shut down, scientists have noticed that many animals have developed cataracts, and many birds have dysfunctional sperm. Infact 40% of all birds are considered sterile.

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This image the genetic mutations that that a plant can undergo when exposed to radiation

Ionized radiation is a force to be reckoned with. It negatively impacts all facets of life (excluding the power it provides) and I believe it has the potential to be the downfall of the human race. It can cause a variety of health issues and can impact a landscape for centuries. We as people must be extremely catious when dealing with radioactive substances as it has the potential to not only harm humans, but all wildlife.- Post written by Yash Banga

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