University expert examines radiation study

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A UNIVERSITY of Portsmouth expert said a study revealing radiation from the leaking Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has caused mutations in some butterflies and damaged the local environment was ‘very thorough’.

Researchers say the mutations – including dented eyes and stunted wings – are the first evidence that the radiation has caused genetic changes in living organisms.

They are likely to add to concerns among ordinary people about potential health risks among humans though there is no evidence of it yet. Scientists say more study is needed to link human health to the Fukushima disaster.

Jim T Smith, of the University of Portsmouth, said the research appears to be ‘a very thorough study’.

The replication of the mutations under lab conditions further supports the report’s findings, he said in a telephone interview.

However, he said he would be ‘very, very wary of trying to extrapolate those results to humans’. Even in the area near Chernobyl in the Ukraine, the absence of humans who left after the 1986 nuclear accident there has actually benefited local fauna in the long run, said Mr Smith, who has conducted research on radiation’s effects on aquatic insects.

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