How does nuclear accidents impact health
Apart from the damage caused by fires and explosions, accidents also release radioactive materials which can cause radiation sickness. Radiation exposure above a certain threshold, usually only received by workers and emergency teams in a stricken plant, causes acute radiation syndrome within hours of exposure. Depending on the dose of radiation this ranges from skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhea, to coma and death.
Radiation damages DNA, especially as it assembles in dividing cells. That means tissues which contain many dividing cells, such as the gut lining, skin and bone marrow, are most at risk of damage. High enough doses also damage brain cells and such doses are invariably fatal.