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• Radioactive pollution can be defined as the
release of radioactive substances or highenergy particles into the air, water, or
earth as a result of human activity, either
by accident or by design. The sources of
such waste include: (1) nuclear weapon
testing or detonation; (2) the nuclear fuel
cycle, including the mining, separation, and
production of nuclear materials for use
in nuclear power plants or nuclear bombs;
(3) accidental release of radioactive
material from nuclear power plants
It is denoted by a tri-foil symbol which is
used as a warning to protect people from
being exposed to radioactivity . Sometimes
natural sources of radioactivity, such
as radon gas emitted from beneath the
ground, are considered pollutants when they
become a threat to human health. Since
even a small amount of radiation
exposure can have serious and cumulative
biological consequences, and since
many radioactive wastes remain toxic for
centuries ,radioactive pollution is a serious
environmental concern even though natural
sources of radioactivity far exceed
artificial ones at present.
The natural sources of radiation may be:
• 1. Radioactive Minerals:
The minerals containing Uranium- 235 ,
Uranium-238 , Thorium-232 , Plutonium- 239
etc. are capable of emitting energetic radiations
causing pollution.
• 2. Cosmic Rays:
The cosmic rays containing highly energetic
particles reach the surface of the earth causing
The intensity of cosmic rays depends on
latitudes and altitude of the place. The
intensity is maximum at the poles and
minimum at the equator.
3 .Radio nuclides:
The unstable radio-nuclides in the atmosphere
can be splitted up into smaller parts emitting
energetic radiation. The smaller radio-nuclides
enter into the body of organism along with air
during respiration.
The various sources of manmade radiation
pollutions may be:
1. Nuclear Power Plants:
Nuclear power plants emit radiation to a very
smaller extent except accidental leaks
(Chernobyl accident of undivided USSR).
2. Radio-active Wastes:
The nuclear power plants produce a lot of
nuclear radio-active wastes. The disposal of
these wastes has become a global problem.
Some countries producing large quantity of
nuclear wastes dump them in ocean near other
3. Nuclear Explosion:
During nuclear explosion, a large number of radionuclides are generated in the atmosphere. The radio
nuclides settle down with rain contaminating the soil
and water bodies. Finally, these enter into food chain
causing serious problem to the living organisms.
4. Radio-isotopes:
Radio-isotopes are also prepared artificially either by
nuclear fusion or by nuclear fission. If these radioisotopes are not properly handled, these emit
radiations causing pollution.
5. Television Set:
Television sets produce radiations which can also
cause cancer.
Radioactive pollution primarily impacts health,
contributing to the rise of illnesses such as lung
cancer, skin cancer and thyroid cancer, along
with birth defects and cognitive disabilities. The
type and severity of effects from radioactive
pollution vary, depending on the quantity of
pollution and amount of exposure. Long-term
exposure might cause an increase in the number
of genetic birth defects and mutations in a
population, while acute exposure poses health
risks, such as higher incidences of cancer within
a population.
When radiation passes through different living
organisms the following dis-orderness takes
1. Radiation splits the molecules of the tissues into
ions and free radicals and causes mutation by
breaking DMA (Deoxy ribonucleic acid)
molecules in the nucleus.
2. Radiation in bone marrow may cause leukemia.
3. Radiation may cause skin burns which may lead
to skin cancer.
4. Radiation at pelvic regions of pregnant ladies,
cause damage to the foetus.
• On one hand, the peaceful uses of radioactive
materials are so wide and effective that modern
civilization cannot go without them, and on the
other hand, there is no cure for radiation
damage. However, the only option against
nuclear hazards is to check and prevent
radioactive pollution by taking the following
measures and precautions.
• Safety measures should be enforced strictly;
• Leakages from nuclear reactors, careless
handling, transport and use of radioactive fuels,
fission products and radioactive isotopes have
to be totally stopped;
• There should be regular monitoring and
quantitative analysis through frequent sampling
in the risk areas;
• Waste disposal must be careful, efficient and
• Appropriate steps should be taken against
occupational exposure;
• Nuclear tests should be banned.
• safety measures should be strengthened
against nuclear accidents; and
• Preventive measures should be followed so
that background radiation levels do not
exceed the permissible limits.
Thus, we can say that radioactivity causes long
range effects, affecting the future of humans
and hence, the future of our civilization.
1) Give any two examples of radioactive
2) The intensity of cosmic rays depends on
of the place.
3) Natural sources of radioactivity such
gas emitted from beneath
the ground are considered pollutants.
4) Expand DNA.
5) Radiation in bone marrow may cause
6)are also prepared artificially either by nuclear
fusion or by nuclear fission.
7)The intensity of cosmic rays is
the poles and
at the equator.
8)Name a natural and an artificial source of
radioactive pollution.
9)Radioactive pollution can be defined as the
release of
10)What is the term used to describe this
symbol? (It starts with a “t”.)
11)What does the symbol denote?
12) What does this picture depict?