Health and Environmental Impacts of the Atomic Bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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Populations, animals, and the environment have been largely affected by the upsurge in radioactive materials in the ecosystem. In August 1945, the USA released a nuclear bomb over Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Approximately 70,000 people died in 9 seconds in Hiroshima, and 129,000 people died in Nagasaki. The bomb released a cataclysmic amount of energy, which wiped out 90% of the city. Nuclear bombs are lethal weapons that when detonated, could cause intense radiations and shockwaves, which may contaminate soil, water, air as well as food supply. The paper seeks to analyse the health and environmental effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

One health effect of the bomb was the instant annihilation and radiation poisoning. Use of nuclear bombs injected radioactive particles into the stratosphere, which caused a number of health problems and a global fallout (Young 2005, p.34). One effect of the radiation is the genetic mutations due to exposure to radiation. The after-effect can also result in the altering of the genes of humans and plants and may lead to deleterious consequences (Santoso and van Klinken 2017, p.10). According to Solomon and Martson, the bomb attack on Hiroshima caused cancerous tumours on the survivors (2006, p.77). Moreover, the radioactivity diminished the reproductive capacity of the victims. Moreover, nuclear bombs caused a change in the appearance of offspring. Eggs of marine organisms living affected water bodies were disposed to a genetic mutation (Solomon and Martson 2006, p.456).

According to Hersey, leukaemia victims increased over the next few centuries. It is estimated that people exposed to the radiation had a 46% likelihood of getting leukaemia (2015, p.90). Other forms of cancer that increased include lung cancer, breast, and thyroid tumour. Females aged 22 to 30 were at high-risk contracting breast cancer and worse, those exposed to radiation were three times likely to contract the disease. Additionally, women exposed to the bombings had higher chances of miscarriages, and their infants had a higher probability of death even after birth. Psychological effects that were evident include PTSD (Hersey 2015, p.95).

The Hiroshima bombings resulted in devastating environmental consequences. The immediate effect includes the destruction of buildings and trees. The extreme thermal radiation burnt everything in its path including animals, trees, and people (London 2004, p.15). Furthermore, the detonation of the numerous bombs resulted in the death of plant life surrounding the area. Everything alive in the two cities was recorded to have high levels of radioactive caesium. Moreover, the explosive fallout created radioactive dust that falls out of the sky (London 2004, p.15). Thereafter, wind and water currents transmit the dust across larger radii and thus contaminating water and food supply. The bombs generated large quantities of waste, which ended up in rivers and dams. Radioactive particles travelled and contaminated aquatic life. Despite spending billions in waste management, Japan is still faced with substantial waste problems emanating from the bombing (Santoso and van Klinken 2017, p.14). After the war, many hazardous substances were disposed ad elements such as plutonium, uranium, and cyanide harmed wildlife. To add on, the areas affected by the bombing remained unliveable for many years (Young 2005, p.11).


The use of nuclear weaponry on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had vast environmental and health effects as analysed in the essay. Among the health effects include genetic mutation, deaths, premature delivery, miscarriages, leukaemia, and PTSD. Moreover, by the end of the war, forests, farms, irrigation networks, and transport systems had been destroyed. The environmental effects included the destruction of the stratosphere, marine life, and soil and water contamination. Currently, the solution to radioactive waste management and disposal has not been found. It is high time that the world comes up with ways of disposing of nuclear materials to prevent the suffering of future generations.


Hersey, J., 2015. Hiroshima. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 28/04/2018].

London, J., 2004 . The environmental effects of nuclear war. Boulder, Colo, Westview Pr.

Santoso, A., and van Klinken, G., 2017. Genocide Finally Enters Public Discourse: The International People's Tribunal 1965, Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 594.

Solomon, F., and Martson, R. Q., 1986. The Medical implications of nuclear war. Washington (DC): National Academies Press.

Young, C. C., 2005. The environment and science: social impact and interaction. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.

August 01, 2023

World War II

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Atomic Bomb Hiroshima Japan

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