How is a nuclear bomb blast different from a nuclear power plant accident?
An accident at a nuclear power plant would not produce a fireball or mushroom cloud like a nuclear blast. However, it could release radioactive materials into the air, though this would be at a much lower level than a nuclear bomb blast. More information on nuclear power plant accidents is available on a separate fact sheet. What are the health effects of a nuclear bomb blast? The health effects depend on the distance from the blast. Injury or death may result from the blast itself or from flying debris. Those who look directly at the blast could experience temporary blindness or severe eye damage. People near the blast site would be exposed to high levels of radiation causing severe skin burns, shock and death within minutes to days. People farther away may be exposed to lower doses of radiation from the blast or by breathing air, eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with fallout. Exposure to radiation increases the chance of developing cancer and other health problems y