science,

In HBO's Chernobyl, radiation sickness is depicted as highly contagious, able to be transmitted by brief skin-to-skin contact with a contaminated person. Is this actually how radiation works?

Sophia Williams Sophia Williams Apr 10, 2023 · 2 mins read
In HBO's Chernobyl, radiation sickness is depicted as highly contagious, able to be transmitted by brief skin-to-skin contact with a contaminated person. Is this actually how radiation works?
Share this

HBO’s recent hit miniseries “Chernobyl” brings to light the horrors of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine. It depicts the aftermath of the explosion and the immediate health effects on the local population, as well as the physical and psychological toll on the first responders who risked their lives to contain the disaster. However, one aspect of the series that has caused controversy is the portrayal of radiation sickness as highly contagious and easily transmitted from person to person through brief skin-to-skin contact. This raises the question: is this actually how radiation works?

Radiation sickness, also known as acute radiation syndrome (ARS), is caused by exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation. This type of radiation can damage cells and DNA, which can lead to various symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and skin burns. ARS is a serious illness that can be fatal in severe cases, and those who are exposed to high levels of radiation are often treated in specialized medical centers.

Contrary to the portrayal in “Chernobyl,” ARS is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from person to person through skin-to-skin contact. In fact, ARS is caused by exposure to external sources of radiation, such as from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear weapon. It is not caused by contact with another person who has been exposed to radiation.

It is true that someone who has been exposed to high levels of radiation can emit radiation themselves, which can be harmful to others if they come into close contact. However, this is not the same as being contagious. The level of radiation emitted by a person who has been exposed to high levels of radiation is typically not high enough to cause significant harm to someone who comes into contact with them. Additionally, the radiation emitted by a person who has been exposed to external sources of radiation decreases rapidly over time as the radioisotopes decay, and so the risk to others diminishes over time as well.

The portrayal of radiation sickness as contagious in “Chernobyl” may have been done for dramatic effect, but it is important to remember that it is not an accurate representation of how radiation works in the real world. Misinformation about radiation can cause unnecessary fear and harm, and it is important that accurate information about radiation and its effects is shared with the public to prevent misunderstandings.

In conclusion, while “Chernobyl” is a gripping miniseries that sheds light on a tragic event in history, it is important to remember that radiation sickness is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from person to person through brief skin-to-skin contact. Accurate information about radiation is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of the public.

science
Sophia Williams
Written by Sophia Williams
Always exploring new horizons and pushing the boundaries.