*the radiation causes weird tumors and
birth defects in the animals that live in the surrounding area. The ​Chernobyl exclusion zone is an restricted area 1,600 square miles around the reactor site where oddly enough , in the absence of people, wildlife have thrived. why?? The animals are radioactive because they eat radioactive food and therefore produce fewer and mutated young. BUT...

​populations of Przewalski's horses, wolves, badgers, swans, moose, elk, turtles, deer, foxes, beavers, boars, bison, mink, hares, otters, lynx, eagles, rodents, storks, bats, and owls have increased while insect populations have diminished significantly. why? bees, butterflies, spiders, grasshoppers, and dragonflies lay eggs in the top layer of soil which contains high levels of radioactivity.
Radionuclides in water have settled into the sediment in lakes. Aquatic organisms are contaminated and face ongoing genetic instability. Affected species include frogs, fish, crustaceans, and insect larvae. birds exhibit deformed beaks, bent tail feathers, and deformed air sacs, smaller brains, malformed sperm, and cataracts.

* the most serious threat is cesium-137 and strontium-90 with half lives of 30 and 28 years. Strontium-90 is incorporated in bones and teeth after drinking milk from cows grazing on contaminated forage. Cesium-137 is incorporated into the tissues of people and animals causing serious health issues and death. these isotopes have a long half-life requiring a continued exclusion zone.

Here are some facts
​about the disaster:

Their reindeers' primary food source was the lichen growing on the tundra. Lichen that absorbed lichen caesium and strontium from the radioactive fallout of Chernobyl.

lichens enable algae to survive in dry environments by providing then with protection and water. algae to convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen via photosynthesis. 

*radioactive isotopes, transmitted by dust particles floating in the air and falling to the ground, accumulated in
the thyroid gland. Why do iodine supplements help?

reindeer "moss"

The Sami people of Sweden are the descendants of nomadic peoples who had inhabited northern Scandinavia for millennia. Sami lived in tents or turf huts and migrated with their herds in units of five or six families, supplementing their diet along the way by hunting and fishing.

symbiosis =
two different organisms living together typically to the advantage of both.

Thousands of reindeer representing almost 90% of the Sami's herds were rounded up and slaughtered, their carcasses buried. 

Herders who could not longer slaughter and eat meat from their own herds (niestti) lost the traditions associated with their niestti. Sámi make use of all of the reindeer, its organs, antlers, hooves and blood creating material, thread and shoes. Without this source, they had to rely on other sources and government assistance. In one generation, much of the Sami culture has disappeared. 

this is the story...

an odd choice for a vacation...

* alpha, beta and gamma rays, released radioactive isotopes, enter your cells
and mutate DNA. 

*the pictures of a ghost town associated with the Chernobyl disaster is the city of Pripyat. it was evacuated several days after the disaster and remains uninhabited. 

Tie this all together...
meet the reindeer of Scandinavia's  Lapland...
​and the Sami 

the lichen, an unassuming symbiote,
​was this tragedy's
​canary...can you think of others?

are generally not found in cities because of high pollution levels. As such, they are considered pollution/contamination markers. 

the canary in the coal mine

lichens can also absorb everything in their atmosphere, especially pollutants, providing us with valuable information about the environment.
Scientists can extract the toxins and determine pollution levels in the air.

 lichen are able to store radioactive fall-out, especially caesium and strontium.

* Sweden sent the first alert. The Soviet Union took several days to tell their own people to evacuate
​nearby areas.
Swedish Nuclear plant workers identified high levels of radiation via their sensors causing Sweden to send out the first alert. 

are symbiotic partnerships
between fungi and algae. Most of a lichen's characteristics come from the fungi.
The algae can be either green alga or blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) or both. sometimes lichen is called moss, like reindeer moss which is really a lichen. that's a mistake. lichens are not plants. 

there are many such canaries...

Sámi culture thrived built on a rich tradition surrounding the reindeer. They ate meat and used the remains of deer from their family herd, promoting kinship.

canaries were used in coal mines to detect the presence of carbon monoxide. the little bird's fast breathing rate and rapid metabolism

caused canaries to die from CO poisoning before the miners, alerting miners to dangerous CO levels.
the phrase “like a canary in a coal mine”, refers to an
indicator of danger. 

The U.S. Forest Service National Lichens & Air Quality Database and Clearinghouse 


provides more information about lichen biomonitoring and how it is helping federal land managers meet federal and agency responsibilities to detect, map, evaluate trends, and assess the ecological impacts of air pollutants.

The Chernobyl explosion and meltdown is considered the worst nuclear disaster in our planet's history. ..

On April 26th, 1986, reactor #4 exploded releasing a radioactive cloud 
that killed thousands. 

 rain soggy lichen savored by Lapland reindeer was a dangerous ecological  reservoir for the cesium fallout from Chernobyl in the mid 1980s. 

Many Sami no longer live in the traditional Sami areas, having moved into the towns and cities of Northern Norway. Those who remained in traditional Sami areas now  earn their living working in jobs unfamiliar to the population just one generation ago. 

 Welcome to Dr. Kate Brilakis' Learning Portal