Close to Home: Chernobyl’s Berries in the US

Although Chernobyl liquidators (clean-up workers) and local residents received high doses of radiation in the direct aftermath of the meltdown, at least 30 percent of Chernobyl’s radiation exposure has and will continue to come from the ingestion of contaminated agricultural products. In fact, radioactive food will be responsible for the vast majority of Chernobyl’s post-1990 public health impacts, in addition to a number of cultural conflicts and societal disruptions. This project attempts to trace contaminated Chernobyl food products across the world, through both the atmosphere and trade, from 1986 through the present. Using examples from Belarus, the UK, Norway, Turkey, France, and the US, I hope to demonstrate the continuing and transnational political, social, economic, and health consequences of Chernobyl’s agricultural fallout.

View the project in ArcGIS Storymaps

Max Katz-Balmes ‘20 is double majoring in Environmental Studies and Economics. At Swarthmore, he played on the men’s golf team, worked as a President’s Sustainability Research Fellow, volunteered for Serenity Soular, and served as an editor for The Phoenix. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a career at the intersections of social justice and environmentalism.

RUSS043 Chernobyl: Nuclear Naratives and the Environment, Swarthmore College, Spring 2020