What Do Deformed Butterflies Mean for Humans in Fukushima?
How vulnerable are species — including humans — to radiation? This is a crucial question facing people around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, who have to live with low-level radiation the government says is insignificant but whose long-term health consequences are still unknown. At least one species – the pale grass blue butterfly – has been found to be vulnerable to such radiation exposure, with high rates of deformities detected among offspring, according to a research paper published in Scientific Reports last week.
This begs another question: Does that mean there will be an increase in deformities and mortality rates among humans also? A team of Japanese scientists found a marked increase in mutations among the offspring of pale grass blue butterflies that were collected in Fukushima prefecture two months after the March 11 nuclear disaster last year.