Radioactive carbon from nuclear testing found in deep oceanic beings

A new study published in the Geophysical Research Letters shows how nuclear tests carried out in past decades have left their mark on the environment. According to this new research, radioactive carbon released during nuclear testing in the 20th century would have been deposited even in the deepest parts of the ocean and even in living beings.

In fact, researchers have found traces of radioactive carbon, certainly left by nuclear bomb tests, in the muscle tissue of various crustaceans that inhabit the ocean pits of various deep parts of the Earth’s oceans, including the Mariana Trench, the deepest oceanic point ever.

According to scholars, the crustaceans living in this great depth have been fed over the years by organic matter and living beings from the surface areas. The latter have assimilated the radioactive carbon of bombs into their own molecules since the late 1950s. This result shows how much pollution produced by human beings, and in particular, that resulting from nuclear bomb tests, can irreparably penetrate the environment and remain there for decades entering the food chain.

“There is a very strong interaction between the surface and the bottom, in terms of biological systems, and human activities can affect biosystems up to 11,000 meters, so we have to be careful about our future behavior,” says Weidong Sun, geochemist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Qingdao, China, one of the authors of the study together with Ning Wang.

The carbon found inside the bodies of these living creatures is that produced by thermonuclear weapons tests conducted mainly in the 1950s and 1960s when the amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere was doubled by the action of neutrons released by bombs reacting with nitrogen in the air.

Jeff Moore

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