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WHAT IS RADIOACTIVE POLLUTION?

The radioactive pollution is defined as the physical pollution of air, water and the other radioactive materials. The ability of certain materials to emit the proton, gamma rays and electrons by their nuclei is known as the radioactivity. The protons are known as the alpha particle and the electrons are also known as the beta particle. Those materials are known as the radioactive elements. The environmental radiations can be from different sources and can be natural or manmade. The natural radiations are also known as the background radiations. In this the cosmic rays are involved and reach the surface of earth from space. It includes the radioactive elements like radium, uranium, thorium, radon, potassium and carbon. These occur in the rock, soil and water. The man made radiations include the mining and refining of plutonium and thorium. This production and explosion of nuclear weapons include the nuclear fuels, power plants and radioactive isotopes. The first atom bomb was exploded in the Japan in the year 1945. It affected the Hiroshima and Nagasaki cities. It adversely affected the flora, fauna and humans of that area. In spite of these destructions the nuclear race is still going on between different nations. The nuclear arms are tested with the production of nuclear weapons. The radioactive elements are produced in the environment and affect other materials also. It includes the strontium, radium and iodine. The gases and particles are produced by the radioactive materials. They are carried by the wind and the rain brings down the radioactive particles to the ground which is referred as nuclear fallout. The soil transfers these radioactive substances to the plants and ultimately they reach the human body and cause many side effects. The iodine may affect the white blood cells, bone marrow, spleen, lymph, skin cancer, sterility, eye and damage to the lung. The strontium has the ability to aggregate in the bones and form a bone cancer and leads to tissue degeneration. The radioactive materials are passed through the land to water and cause an adverse effect on the aquatic animals. They reach to human through the food chain. The nuclear power generates a lot of energy which is used to run turbines and produces electricity. The fuel and the coolant produce a large amount of pollution in the environment. The atomic reactors are also rich in the radioactive materials. There biggest problem is in their disposal and if they are not properly disposed they can harm the living organisms. If they escape they can cause a hell lot of destruction. The gases escape as a vapor and cause pollution on the land and water. The use of radioactive isotopes is multipurpose. They are of a great scientific value and they may be present in the waste water. From these water resources they reach to the human body via food chain. The people who work in power plants have more chances of the exposure to harmful radiations. The human beings also receive the radiation and radiotherapy from the x rays.

CAUSES OF RADIATIOACTIVE POLLUTION
The radiation pollution causes are various human activities, that add to natural radiation background (radiation produced everywhere in the Universe in absence of human activities).

some nuclear waste location may not be identified. Defense weapon production – may also release radioactivity from the handled radioactive materials (usually of high health risks). Thus. This is why there is no safe exposure limit to radiation pollution. Thus. cell-phones. Exposure to High Amounts of Radiation . However. the shields (natural or artificial) may be damaged. TVs. Even accidents from handling medical nuclear materials/wastes could have radiation health effects on workers. water. Lung cancer is a typical example of . Additional. to dilute it. in time. Another example is the 1979 explosion at Three Mile Island nuclear-power generating plant near Harrisburg. radio waves.). their effects may not be easily distinguishable and are hard to predict. while exposure to high amounts of radiation almost always generate serious diseases (cancer is the most common radiation-induced disease) or immediate death. especially in sensitive individuals (the genetic inheritance plays an important role in how sensitive an individual may be to radiation pollution). Its effects are still seen today. • • • • EFFECTS OF RADIOACTIVE POLLUTION The radiation pollution effects vary depending on the amount of radiation to which we are exposed and on the sensitivity of each exposed individual. serious life-threatening diseases may develop even from exposure to small amounts of radiation but. the current standards will not allow the release of any significant amount of radiation. if containing is not possible. the past waste disposal practices may not have used appropriate measures to isolate the radiation. Additionally. The waste may also be contained by storage in remote areas with little or no life (such as remote caves or abandoned salt mines). Mining of radioactive ores (such as uranium ores) – involve the crushing and processing of radioactive ores and generate radioactive by-products. over long periods of time. PA. Thus. Nuclear accidents – an already classic example of such accident is the nuclear explosion at a former Soviet nuclear power plant from Chernobyl that occurred in the mid 1986. Nuclear waste handling and disposal – may generate low to medium radiation over long period of times. While there are many causes of radiation pollution (including research and medical procedures and wastes.Sources of Radiation Pollution The sources of radiation pollution involve any process that emanates radiation in the environment. The radioactivity may contaminate and propagate through air. However. Mining of other ores may also generate radioactive wastes (such as mining of phosphate ores). and soil as well. the most common ones that can pose moderate to serious health risks include: • Nuclear explosions and detonations of nuclear weapons – probably the highest amounts of humaninduced radiation pollution have been generated in the mid twenty century through various experimental or combat nuclear detonations (that ended the Second World War). The general problems at nuclear weapons reactors are other examples of this type of sources of radiation pollution. nuclear power plants. unless accident occurs.Radiation Pollution and Cancer Cancer generation is the most typical health effect of radiation exposure. etc. such areas need to be carefully identified and access restrictions promptly imposed. in general. especially when high or moderate amounts of radiation are involved (in general regardless of the exposure period). the only options are to contain the waste by storing it in tightly closed containers shielded with radiation-protective materials (such as Pb) or. The main issue with the radiation waste is the fact that it cannot be degraded or treated chemically or biologically. computers. Thus.

the waste may be diluted till background values are achieved. These may or may not be followed by cancer. genetic birth defects and retardation are possible due to parent exposures. The many years of monitoring of radiation effects from detonation of nuclear bombs in Japan in 1940’s.the effect of exposure to radon. reproductive or cardiac systems. Also other health problems may develop affecting the neurological.S. Hypothyroidism may also be a radiation cause due to the destruction of thyroid gland by radioactive accumulated iodine. Thus. Basically. Thyroid tumors / cancer may also develop due to the effect of radioactive iodine that accumulates in the thyroid. the intake of non-radioactive dose of iodine is taken as precaution in order to leave no space for the radioactive iodine to bind and accumulate. Treatment of radiation waste cannot be done through degradation by chemical or biological processes. but the genetic material may be threatened through mutations with unpredictable overall effects. which is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U. including the handling and treatment of radiation waste. This is why.which may also involve the use of some kind of barriers (shields). the control and mitigation of nuclear accidents. many radioactive materials have very long half-times (time necessary for half of the material to degrade or transform into non-radioactive materials) and thus radiation waste may pose a risk for many years after it was produced. . as well as the control and minimization of personal exposure to radiation at an individual level. showed that cancers may develop immediately following the exposure to radiation or after shorter or longer periods (up to 30 years from the exposure) of time since the exposure occurred. Additionally. when radiation accident occurs. (please note that the risk of developing lung cancer increases with smoking). Exposure to Low Amounts of Radiation over Long Periods of Time The health effects of exposure to low amounts of radiation over longer times are not well-known. Skin cancer may also develop as a result to prolonged UV exposure at tanning saloons and/or beaches. Other factors may influence the development of diseases due to radiation. HOW TO CONTROL RADIOACTIVE POLLUTION AND PREVENT EXPOSURE? Radiation Pollution Control can be done at various levels. there are only few options for radiation waste treatment involving: • • • Containment of the waste in radiation-shielded containers usually buried under ground Isolation of radiation waste in remote locations such as remote caves or abandoned mines . especially since the ozone layer gets weaker in protecting us. When the first two alternatives are not possible.

While radiation may be generated in any conditions. there are measures you may take to prevent and/or reduce radiation pollution that may affect you and your family. At individual levels. a preferred radon reduction technique is the installation of a special system called active soil depressurization (ASD). testing of your home for radon may be done by each person using inexpensive testing kits or by specialized consulting services.g. the higher the heat. UV rays are produced by hot bodies such as the sun). For example. the higher the energy of radiation produced (e... The Department of Energy (DOE) implements the standards at their facilities. environmental standards designed tom protect human health from radiation are issued by EPA along with guidance for federal agencies related to radiation exposure standards/limits. Thus. away from any heating source. Law Enforcement for Radiation Pollution Control – in the U. This is why radiation waste should be stored in cold places. the heat increases the amount of radiation and thus may increase the health risk. Also. If radiation seems to be an issue (a higher than background value of radon in home is found).S. • . This system contains a vent pipe with an inline centrifugal fan that operates continuously to vent radon and other intruding gases from beneath the house. Here are some examples: • First. but also of other toxic chemicals (nonradioactive) that may get from the subsurface into indoor breathing air. the system may be efficient to block the intrusion into homes not only of radon. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the federal agency responsible to implement some of the EPA’s regulation and standards.Heat and Radiation Pollution – basically radiation is a method of heat transfer. Choosing an appropriate location for your home – away from the main radiation pollution sources. radiation is concentrated in the ash due to burning processes.