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Types of Radioactive Pollution

3 Types of Radioactive Pollution- Everything You Need to Know

When you hear about radioactive, what comes to your mind is atomic and nuclear bombs. These weapons of mass destruction are a popular topic across the globe. Indeed, these weapons release radioactive waste into the environment.

However, there are many types of radioactive pollution in the modern world. The use of nuclear material as a source of energy creates high chances of releasing radioactive pollutants into the environment. This waste has hurtful impacts on human and organisms’ lives.

Hence, it is essential to control them. But before learning about the different types of radioactive wastes, it is essential to know what they are. Keep reading to learn more.

Understanding radioactive pollution

Radioactive pollution releases radioactive materials to the environment through natural, intentional, or accidental activity before reaching their safety levels. This means that the materials are reacting and emitting harmful radiation. The radioactive wastes can damage human and organism DNA due to their powerful radiation.

In other words, radioactive pollution increases radiation beyond the natural limit. These harmful radiations from radioactive wastes have the power to damage humans and other living things.

Unlike other types of pollution, radioactive pollutants are complex to manage. You cannot detoxify or break them into a harmless state. Instead, these materials go through a process known as radioactive decay, which can take hundreds or thousands of years before they reach a stable condition.

Through the process, they release ionizing radiations. These radiations have the power of causing other atoms and molecules to release their electrons. The free electrons have a great destructing ability that can affect various biochemical processes.

In this regard, radioactive radiation can cause cancers, DNA alteration, and death. It is critical to manage and prevent radioactive waste emission to the environment at all costs.

Common Types of Radioactive Pollution

Radioactive pollutants exist in different types depending on occurrence frequency. They include:

1. Occasional radioactive pollutants

As the term suggests, these radioactive pollutants are occasional. They occur during nuclear test operations. Also, these pollutants can be released during radioactive substance experiments.

The authorities can manage the release of these radioactive pollutants by putting tough policies and rules on agencies handling radioactive materials.

2. Accidental radioactive pollutants

Accidents are common incidents in the lab or experiment centers. If you have been in a science class, you might have carried out an experiment that did not go as planned. Your process backfired and gave unintended results.

Such incidents are not exceptional in the radioactive labs. Radioactive experiments fail or backfire. The experiment gets out of hand, and the substances used become hard to control. These accidental incidents result in releasing of radioactive wastes into the environment.

Also read: How to wash air pollution mask 

3. Continuous radioactive pollutants

Unlike accidental and occasional, continuous radioactive pollutants is a constant occurrence. This type of pollution occurs in uranium and other radioactive substance mines. Also, they are common in radioactive testing labs and nuclear reactor centers.

These places have a regular deposit of radioactive wastes and contaminants, meaning a continuous radioactive decay process. As such, there is a constant release of ionizing radiation to the environment in these places.

In such sites, all living things and humans become contaminated with radioactive materials such as nuclear fuel residue, radioactive dust, and fission products. 

Also read: How to prevent water pollution in rivers

FAQs on Types of Radioactive Pollution

Why are radioactive pollutants harmful?

Radioactive materials undergo a process known as radioactive decay. This process involves the emission of dangerous ionizing radiations such as gamma rays, beta and alpha particles, and neurons. The element is very unstable and ionizes every atom or molecule they come across.

For this reason, it possesses a high potential that can damage, alter, or affect the genetic content of humans, animals, and plants. The effect is continuous as the radioactive decay takes years and centuries to complete. Hence, radioactive contamination has a hurtful impact on current and future generations.

Also, it is hard to make the radioactive material harmless. You cannot detoxify or break down these materials to make them safe. As such, radioactive pollutants remain the most dangerous threat to humanity and living organisms.   

What are the best radioactive pollutants examples?

Generally, there are over 70 types of radioactive pollutants. Some of these elements occur naturally in the environment, while others get there due to emission. The best examples of radioactive contaminants are:

1. Caesium-137
2. Plutonium 238
3. Strontium-90
4. Chromium-51
5. Calcium-47
6. Uranium-235
7. Strontium-85
8. Thorium-229

Each of these elements is useful for different purposes in day-to-day life. However, accidental release to the environment makes them harmful.

What causes radioactive pollution?

Radioactive pollution occurs due to the deposition of radioactive materials on/in humans or objects. There are many causes of radioactive pollution. They include:

1. Accidents in the nuclear energy generation factories
2. Use of mass destruction weapons such as nuclear and atomic bombs
3. Releasing of radioisotopes used in industries to the water bodies
4. Radioactive mining sites
5. Radioactive chemical spills
6. Natural sources and cosmic rays

What are the common effects of radioactive contaminants?

As noted, radioactive pollutions are hazardous and can cause long-term damage to humans and plants. Exposure to radioactive has several effects. First, radioactive radiation can lead to a genetic mutation. The radiations cause damage to the human and animal DNA strands that impact genetic formation.

The next effect of radioactive contamination is radiation-related diseases. Radioactive radiations cause different health conditions such as cancers, leukemia, hemorrhage, and anemia.

Also, they cause premature aging and death as well as heart diseases and complications. Other effects include soil infertility, burns, and cell destruction.

Undoubtedly, radioactive pollution is a threat to human and living organisms’ existence. Its effect will have short-term and long-term impacts. For this reason, critical ways to manage this type of pollution should be a priority.

Essentially, if you deal with different types of radioactive pollution, you must ensure you observe all safety measures and standards. A minor breach in these measures will have a severe impact on you and the society around you.

Remember, radioactive radiation has an ionizing attribute that makes it dangerous as it contaminates and alters everything it comes across.   

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