What Are the Effects of Radioactive Pollution?

Effects of radioactive pollution depend upon the following factors, half-life, energy releasing capacity, the rate of diffusion and the rate of deposition of the pollutant, various environmental factors such as wind, temperature, rainfall also influence their effects, the effect of radiation also depends on the type of radiation waves.

What is Radioactive Pollution

Types of Radiation

Radiation Particles

Sources of Radioactive Radiations

Effects of radioactive pollution

What Are the Effects of Radioactive Pollution

Radioactivity is a phenomenon of spontaneous emission of particles such as protons (alpha particles), electrons (beta particles), and gamma rays (short wave electromagnetic radiation) due to the disintegration of atomic nuclei of some elements.

What is Radioactive Pollution

The natural environment has radioactive radiation but these radiations are present in a quantity which can be easily tolerated by living organisms. However, with the development of Nuclear Technology for electricity generation, medical uses or Weapon of mass destruction, there is a constant threat of radioactive pollution if any of the safety standards fail to prevent leakage of radiation to the outer environment.

Types of Radiation

1. Non-ionising radiation: It affects only those components which absorb them and have low penetrability.

2. Ionising radiation: It has high penetrability and causes the breakage of macromolecules.

Radiation Particles

1. Alpha Particles: It can be easily blocked by human skin and so is not harmful.

2. Beta Particles: It can penetrate human skin but can be blocked by using metals or glasses.

3. Gama Rays: It is the most harmful as it can easily penetrate human skin and damage the human cells. It can only be blocked by massive concrete structures.

Sources of Radioactive Radiations

Natural Sources

They include cosmic rays from space and terrestrial radiations from radionuclides present in earth’s crust such as radium-224, uranium-238, thorium232, potassium-40, carbon-14 etc.

Man-made Sources

1. Nuclear power plants

2. Nuclear weapons

3. Transportation of nuclear material

4. Disposal of nuclear waste

5. Uranium mining

6. Radiation therapy

Effects of radioactive pollution

Effects of radioactive pollution depend upon the following factors, half-life, energy releasing capacity, the rate of diffusion and the rate of deposition of the pollutant, various environmental factors such as wind, temperature, rainfall also influence their effects, the effect of radiation also depends on the type of radiation waves.

Non-ionizing radiation

1. They include short-wave radiations such as the ultraviolet rays which form a part of solar radiation. They have a low penetrating power and affect only the cells and molecules which absorb them.

2. They can damage eyes which may occur due to reflection from coastal sand, snow (known as snow blindness) or by directly looking at the sun during an eclipse.

3. They can injure the cells of skin and blood capillaries producing blisters and reddening. This condition is known as sunburn.

Ionizing radiation

1. They include x-rays, gamma rays, cosmic rays and other atomic radiations caused by the emissions of radioactive elements. Ionizing radiation has high penetration power and can cause a breakage of macro-molecules.

2. The molecular damage may produce short range (immediate) and long range (delayed) effects. Short range effects include burns, impaired metabolism, dead tissues and death of several organisms.

3. Long range effects include mutations leading to increased incidence of tumours and cancers, shortening of life-span and developmental changes. The mutated gene can persist in living organisms and may affect their progeny.

4. The actively dividing cells such as the embryo, foetus, cells of the skin, intestinal lining, bone marrow and gamete forming cells are more sensitive to radiation.