Acute radiation syndrome?
Lots of people have died since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And, many people have died since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in the present Ukraine and two people died as a result of the Tokai-mura JCO accident in Japan in 1999, having been exposed to a large one time dose of radiation.
Mr. Ouchi and Mr. Shinohara who died in the JCO accident didn’t show any unusual sign right after their exposure to radiation. But soon after they started losing hair, their skin fell off, they bled from their gum, stomach and intestines, blood occurred in their stools, purple spots (called “purpura”) appeared on their skin caused by bleeding underneath, and when they got bacterial infections, they weren’t able to recover. Most people show these symptoms and die within 1-3 months. This is known as acute radiation syndrome. Unlike other diseases, there is no treatment or cure for people who are exposed to a massive dose of radiation. The whole body collapses and it leads to certain death.
Even if you weren’t exposed to lethal dose of radiation, depending on the dose, you would get various symptoms including vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Some people recover from these symptoms over time. These people look as normal, but they always feel sluggish and tired so it is hard for them to continue working. Other people don’t know the reason for this fatigue so they misunderstand that they are just lazy and call them ‘burabura-byo’ (radiation fatigue syndrome). They suffer discrimination their whole lives because of this.
Moreover, they may develop cancer a few years or a decade after exposure to radiation. As shown in the inverted triangle on the right side of the figure on the previous page, we know that the more radiation you are exposed the more vulnerable to cancer you are. Also, the damage caused by radiation might be passed on to their children and grandchildren through their DNA. This is another worry to people who are exposed to radiation.