are introduced to Chernobyl incident and the resulting
environmental health impacts. Students watch a PowerPoint
presentation, read articles and discuss what they have
gained from these sources.
Students will be able to:
1. Articulate the environmental health impacts of Chernobyl
in a class discussion
2. Describe the general background and events surrounding the
National Science Education Standard
CONTENT STANDARD C
Energy sources and Use
Nuclear reactions release energy without the combustion products of burning fuels, but the radioactivity of fuels and by-products poses other risks, which may last for thousands of years.
Strand 3: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Concept 1: Changes in Environments
Describe the interactions between human populations, natural hazards, and the environment.
On Friday, April 25, 1986, as
a result of human error during experiments being
performed by the staff at Chernobyl, USSR, the
cooling system failed resulting in the melting
of fuel and, of greater importance to the public,
the graphite moderator ignited and began the
release of what has been approximated as 1.9
x 1018 Becquerel’s of activity to the environment.
The most hazardous isotopes released in this
accident are known to Cs-137, I-131, and Sr-90.
These isotopes have half-lives sufficiently long
to allow them to migrate into the human body
or, in the case of Iodine, have the tendency
to accumulate in the thyroid gland.
The plume from the burning graphite traveled
in a northwest direction toward Sweden, Finland
and Eastern Europe, exposing the public to levels
up to 100 times the normal background radiation.
A very serious concern involves the contamination
of grain and dairy products from fallout. This
may cause permanent internal contamination. Both
Sr-90 and I-131 migrate to vital organs in the
human body where they are impossible to remove,
serving as a source of radiation and cause of
cancer or other diseases.
Related and Resource Websites
Chernobyl 1 Lesson Plan: http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/math/chernobyl1.html
Global Radiation Patterns: http://users.owt.com/smsrpm/Chernobyl/glbrad.html
PULSE Resource Page on Nuclear Radiation http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/chemicals/nuclear.htm