When mentioning the Goiânia accident or the Windscale fire, you probably don’t know the stories. What about Fukushima and Chernobyl? Nuclear disasters lead us to a point of no return. Even if they don’t result in a disaster, they can leave lasting damage to all living beings nearby. Once it happens, will people bow to fate? They don’t have to. Nature has the solutions. Like, scientists have discovered a radiation-eating fungus called Cryptococcus neoformans.

Researchers claim that a fungus that emerged after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster could be used to protect humans from radiation.

With the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor on April 26, 1986, Ukraine faced dark times. The area was evacuated and abandoned. A year after this event, in 1991, this fungus was found in the area. Scientists observed that the fungus fed on radiation and weakened it.

Cryptococcus neoformans
Cryptococcus neoformans. Source: Wikipedia

It was first described in the 1890s. Normally, it can lead to cryptococcosis in humans with compromised immune systems. But, it may also be beneficial thanks to its high levels of melanin, which absorbs radiation and converts it into chemical energy. This process is called radiosynthesis, similar to photosynthesis.

Scientists believe they can harness the power of radiosynthesis from fungi and use it to create a protective sunscreen. Moreover, chief scientist Kasthuri Venkateswaran believes it could benefit cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and protect engineers at nuclear power plants.

Cleaning toxic chemicals with hemp

Here is another marvelous example of toxic chemical cleaning. Vincenz Farnora’s farm in Taranto, Italy, uses hemp to remove radiation waste and harmful chemicals from the soil. Europe’s largest steel factory is also located here, and the factory has been polluting the environment. The farm is just a mile away from the factory. In over ten years, all 600 sheep on the farm died.

Since then, it has been prohibited to raise livestock or grow food crops. Instead, Vincenzo Fornaro decided to grow cannabis. Not for smoking or selling. His aim is to clean the toxin from the soil.

Which would be more effective, the fungus that eats radiation or the cannabis that cleans up nuclear waste and toxic chemicals? No matter. They’re both fantastic solutions. And all comes from the nature.