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Radioactive Pollution

The release of radionuclides into the atmosphere and rest of environment leads to their dispersal and distribution and finally the exposure to human population and other biota.

Things that are important in understanding the consequences are as follows.

  • The behaviour of these radioactive substances after the routine and accidental release in different ecosystems
  • Understanding and mastering the events that has taken place in the past, involving both industrial and war operation and weapon testing
  • The remedial strategies for sustaining the development of such contaminated areas
  • Protection of environment from further damages
The assesment of contamination of large areas for radiological consequences when these radionuclides are released into the atmosphere is essential as these detailed prognosis helps in getting the right picture of radioactive pollution.

The radioactive pollution and exposure pathways are very important as these gives an insight of what exactly goes in during the radiation and what steps worked fine against it along with steps which negated the effects.

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What is Radioactive Pollution?

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The presence of radioactive materials in our surroundings is quite normal as we come across several gadgets, items used on a daily basis do radiate but when these substances radiate more than the safe limit of radiation or whenever there is incidents which spark excess amount of hazardous level of radioactivity leading to massive damage to our immediate surroundings including live and matter we categorise them as radioactive pollution.

Sitting in front of television sets for long hours also expose us to radiation but these are not considered as hazardous. Its only when accidents like Chernobyl or under water weapon testing in pacific ocean islands lead to massive damages to marine lives and their surrounding atolls we categorise them as radioactive pollution.

The radioactive substances radiate off particles which penetrates soft skin and tissues and cause irreparable damages to living biota and hence whenever such incidents or accidents like the sinking of nuclear submarine occur we put them as hazardous radiation pollution.

Radioactive Pollution Causes

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The following list of radioactive pollution could give an insight into what usually causes these radioactive bio hazards.
  • Dumping of solid and liquid radioactive wastes.
  • Pollution due to underwater nuclear weapon testing and explosions.
  • Radioactive pollution caused due to water streams and other water run offs from nuclear testing sites.
  • The atmospheric radioactive fallout mainly due to cosmic particle shower or due to entry of extra-terrestrial materials from deep space.
  • Radioactive pollution that are caused due to the accidents in deep sea weapon testing, nuclear tipped weapon loss, radioactive emission from thermos-electrical generators, falling satellites with radioactive materials on board, and finally aircrafts and ships carrying nuclear materials.

Sources of Radioactive Pollution

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The sources of radioactive pollution could either be natural or man-made as even before mankind discovered nuclear science the events of radioactivity emission and radiation from substance were in vogue. It’s only after the discovery of this immense energy producing science field the advent of nuclear energy production and its related topics came into force.
  • The cosmic rays which reach our planet from outer space carry lot of intense limits of rays which usually are radiating in nature and cause pollution
  • The quantity of cosmic rays depends on the altitude as well as the geographical location
  • Emission which emanate from radioactive materials from deep inside Earth core
  • Areas which has deposits of radioactive substances could cause pollution in the surroundings and living organisms of the area may get exposed to such radiations. Eg. The sea beach in Kerala, India has thorium deposits
Although human population has been experiencing low level radiation through-out their existence but the man made materials are now causing greater damages and higher level of radiation threat.

The man made sources of these radioactivity mainly revolve around the nuclear wastes generated by nuclear plants, mining of radioactive substances as well as developing of weapon of mass destructions.
  • The mining and processing of ores of specific radioactive materials
  • Use of radioactive materials in nuclear plants meant for power generation
  • The advent of nuclear medicines to cure and make arrange for precise diagnosis, with the help of radio isotopes
  • Use of radio isotopes in industrial activities and various detectors
  • Use of various radioactive derivatives to produce weapons of mass destructions
  • Atomic waste materials and their subsequent disposal
More than anything, the exposure of human kind to X rays and other medical equipment’s almost on a daily basis for precise imaging and cancer treatment. Radioactivity has entered in some trophic levels through intermediates as these derivatives are now available all across due to bad or obsolete methods of disposal.

Workers in nuclear plants and other hazardous units get exposed to radioactive materials on a daily basis and over a period of time grow malignancy in various tissue organs. Apart from these the weapon testing around the world has given rise to level of radioactive pollution both in soil and marine water as most of the testing were carried out in either mountain terrains or under the sea. The radioactive dusts due to such explosions fall back on Earth and are usually termed as radioactive fallout.

Effects of Radioactive Pollution

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Amongst all kinds of effects the most potentials are basically which effect the human population.

Multifactorial diseases
  • Various disease initiation and their progression depends upon multiple factors such as birth defects, and adult onset diseases which are both chronic as well as acute in nature.
  • The birth defects could range from neural tube defects, cleft lip or genital heart defects while the adult onset diseases could range from diabetes, hypertension, and coronary problems.
  • These multifactorial diseases are usually influenced by genetic mutations (DNA changes) and any of the mutated genes might be the reason a person might go through these kinds of symptoms.
Reproductive effects
  • When a person gets exposed to high level of radioactive material dose, it becomes a reproductive hazard. Effects like disfigured birth, physical impairment at birth and other such things lead to reproductive defects.
  • Exposure to nuclear radiation by any of the parents could lead to defects at birth as these causes’ mutations at genetic level and lead to variations which usually result in abnormality. Problems like low birth weight, physical impairment or variation and damages in chromosome numbers could result in birth defects.
Somatic effects

Individuals who get exposed to radiation pollution could face cells and tissue damages leading to hair loss, mouth ulceration, haemorrhage, skin discoloration and lower blood count or platelets. Some of them might face problems of cardiovascular disorders, leukaemia, sterility and premature aging.

Genetic effects
  • These could lead to chromosomal aberrations and mutations where radiations could cause damage to DNA strands, adverse effects to genetic break up which are either immediate or delayed over a period of time.
  • The future generations could also get affected due to such changes that take place in genetic set up of the individual.
  • The degree of damage and extent both vary due to the level of radiation exposure and the kind of exposure.

Radioactive Pollution Effects

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The measure of radiation is carried out in terms of rads and the exposure of radiation of various dose of rads could lead to number of problems such as:
  • 100-250 rads exposure may not kill the person but they might suffer from fatigue, loss of hair, nausea. Recovery is possible.
  • 400-500 rads exposure leads to bone marrow effects causing low blood count, blood clot failure, lower immunity level, and usually result in death due to bleeding and infection
  • 1000 rads and above leads to immediate death as it damages the tissues of heart, brain and other vital organs
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