Radioactive Pollution

Radioactive Pollution

Radioactive Pollution means the physical contamination of air, water, and soil with radioactive materials.



Radioactivity is the phenomenon of spontaneous emission of protons ( alpha particles), electrons (beta particles), and gamma rays (short wave electromagnetic waves) as a result of the disintegration of atomic nuclei of some elements such as radium, thorium, uranium, etc. The elements which emit radiations as disintegration are known as radioactive.





Sources of Radioactive Pollution


Sources of Radioactive Pollution are both natural as well as human-made.


  • Natural (Background) Radiations: This type of Radioactive Pollution includes cosmic rays that reach the earth from outer space and terrestrial radiations from radionuclides.


  • Man-Made Radiations: These include mining and refining plutonium and thorium, production of nuclear weapons, atomic power plants, preparation of radioactive isotopes, etc.


Effects of Radioactive Pollution


The effects of Radioactive Pollutants depend upon


  • Half-life ( time needed for half of the atom to decay)
  • Energy releasing capacity
  • Rate of diffusion
  • Rate of deposition of the contaminant
  • Climatic conditions such as wind, temperature, rainfall, etc.


All the cells, hence organisms, are affected by Radioactive Pollution in many ways. The actively growing and dividing cells are quickly damaged by radiations, whereas the less active cells are not so easily injured. Various effects of radiations on a human being are summarized as follows:


  • Sunburn: Ultra Violet Rays pass through the horny layer of skin and injure the cell of the germinative layer and cause reddening of skin and blisters.


  • Snow blindness: It injures the surface cells of the cornea, making it opaque, and this causes snow blinding.


  • Inactivation of Biochemicals: Pigments of plants, protein, RNA, and DNA of living organisms absorb U.V. radiations and become inactivated. The U.V. damaged pigments, protein, and RNA can be regenerated by intact undamaged DNA.

Control of Radioactive Pollution





The following measures are helpful to protect ourselves from Radioactive Pollution:

  • The leakage of radioactive elements from nuclear reactors, laboratories, and industries producing, processing, or using them should be checked. All safety measures for this purpose should be strictly enforced.


  • Radioactive wastes should be changed into a harmless form or stored in safe places where they may gradually decay in a harmless manner. Radioactive wastes having very low radiations can be discharged into sewers.


  • The level of radiation causing Pollution should be regularly checked in risk areas.


  • Preventive measures should be taken to keep the background radiations within safety limits.


  • The workers in installations producing or using radioactive materials should wear protective garments and be screened from radioactive materials by radiation-resistant cases or walls. They should also wear radiation indicators to know the total amount of radiation to which they have been exposed.

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