What is Radioactive Pollution?
Radiation is defined as the emission of energy in the form of EM (Electro Magnetic) waves or moving particles which causes ionization.
It can also be broadly defined as the emission of energy in the form of waves or rays. Living organisms are continuously exposed to radiations.
If the emission of toxic radioactive radiations goes beyond a certain level and crosses a certain limit then it causes harmful effects to living beings on earth.
These harmful radiations caused by radioactive elements are actually known as radioactive pollution. Radioactive radiations can harm humans, animals and plants alike.
Radioactive pollution is also known as radioactive contamination. Radiations include gamma rays, beta and alpha particles. Radiations cannot be seen or detected when it touches our body.
We never know how radiations penetrate our body. It just happens silently without our knowledge.
Nowadays, radiations from mobile towers, cell phones and mobile devices, Wi-Fi routers are common. Radiations are very hazardous for our overall health.
Let us now discuss some of the common sources of radioactive pollution
- Natural sources
- Anthropogenic sources
Natural sources of radiation
One of the most common sources of radioactive pollution is atomic radioactive material. These radiations occur during mining of radon or uranium gases that are released into the atmosphere.
Radioactive radiations from these sources are also called natural radiations.
Cosmic rays are also natural sources of radioactive emission. The origin of cosmic rays is stars in our galaxy. These rays are constantly reaching the surface of earth, and are very harmful for our health.
In the environment where we live, natural radiations are present without our knowledge. These natural radiations are rarely harmful for us because the radiations are quite low.
Anthropogenic sources of radiation
These radiations are very harmful and are caused by human activities.
They are caused by diagnostic medical applications such as x-rays that are used in CT scans, gamma rays that are used for cancer treatment, etc.
Nuclear tests are also responsible for radioactive radiations. Nuclear explosion tests cause radiation pollution. In these tests, number of radio nuclide is exposed into the atmosphere.
These substances are responsible for radioactive pollution and cause cancer. These are very harmful for human health.
Nuclear reactors can release harmful radiations even under normal conditions of their operation. Dangers of leakages arise even from minor and negligent accidents.
An earlier accident can be recounted in ‘Chernobyl nuclear power plant’ which caused huge damages to public and property and took away lives of many.
People in the vicinity suffered from threats of cancer and other deadly disorders that could alter even the genetic composition of human beings for generations together.
Leakage at Chernobyl was responsible for death of many innocent workers.
The sad effects of this incident could be seen even today if one happens to visit the region and we can find many people suffering from disorders that show a reflection of the past.
Causes of radioactive pollution
Radioactive pollution is caused when radioactive matter contaminates the environment. A very significant and key cause of radioactive pollution is the existing nuclear power plants.
Leakage of nuclear energy may cause various damages.Chemical spills can also cause radioactive radiation.
Sometimes road accidents causing huge containers to spill out toxic chemicals on ground may lead to radiations escaping into the atmosphere and spreading onto the ground which causes heavy radiations.
Due to scientific experiments carried out insensitively without thinking of future repercussions, radioactive pollution may happen.
Sometimes scientific experiments go wrong and cause radiations because of which harmful gases gets introduced into the environment.
At laboratories, accidental spills of chemicals may cause unknown and unattended radiation chains. They may even lead to uncontrollable situations and lead to disasters like explosions.
Hence, proper care and caution have to be exercised while using chemicals and chemical agents while using them for experiments.
Radioactive material causes radioactive pollution so it is necessary to handle radioactive material with utmost care and concern.
Effects of Radioactive Pollution
Most dangerous effect of radioactive pollution is cancer. Due to radiation, cells of living organisms get destroyed, whether it is plants, animals or human beings.
Harmful radiations can cause genetic mutations in people. If pregnant women or animals are exposed to radioactive pollution then may give birth to babies with congenital diseases which could be passed on from one generation to the other and may even result in the loss of babies.
Mutations can cause cancer and infertility problems. Due to genetic mutations, the genetic handles and gene compositions of living beings could drastically be changed and lead to abnormal conditions in off springs.
A genetic modification is usually carried in the gene of future generations and may appear in some or the other form in a distant off-spring through the course of future generations.
Radiations can cause burning of skin and skin diseases because of chemicals that produces extensive heat and are highly inflammable.
These radioactive burns can cause reddening of skin, pain, blistering and damage to skin tissues.
Skin is usually a very sensitive organ and even a mild burning sensation on it can cause enough irritation to cause the skin from changing its original appearance.
Not only living species, but even plants and other organisms get affected by radiations. These radiations can make soil infertile.
And also it can leave air unsafe to breathe. The lands where soil is contaminated by radiation effects and hazards are highly poisonous to support any kind of cultivation.
Such crops are equally bad for health as they carry the bad effects of radiation in them.
Solutions for radioactive pollution
Radioactive chemicals should be stored in safe places like containers which do not break easily and also not allow radiations to seep out.
They must be coated with films that help store the chemicals within safe containers and do not leak out any trace of the radioactive material.
There should be clear warnings and signs on containers of radioactive materials or chemicals.
Radioactive elements can contaminate a person’s skin or clothes, and the affected person can further contaminate the environment around him.
Clear warning signs and precautions, with good awareness can prevent such occurrences of serious damage.
Alternatives of nuclear energy can help a lot. Less use of nuclear energy can reduce the number of nuclear power plants so that there will be less amount or radioactive radiations.
Disposal of waste material from nuclear power plants is in turn radioactive in nature, so improper disposal methods can further trigger reactions in the environment.
There should be proper disposal of radioactive material wastes, simply don’t bury these materials into soil or throw them in garbage bins without proper knowledge.
Radioactive material takes centuries to get decomposed. But some radioactive materials can be reused again by recycling them.
As the advancement of science takes place and technology takes center stage in today’s global economy, it becomes important to use radioactive materials for new inventions.
But nuclear energy and radioactive materials could prove to be very hazardous for the environment.
Therefore, proper checks should happen to curb radioactive pollution and a goal should be set to keep our atmosphere and nature safe and this can be done by using appropriate measures.