Today, there are many types of pollution, and many of them have a different scale of distribution. Radioactive contamination occurs depending on the object the source of radioactive substances. This type of pollution can occur due to nuclear weapons testing or due to an accident at a nuclear power plant. There are currently 430 nuclear reactors in the world, 46 of which are located in Eurasia.
Causes of radioactive pollution
Now let’s talk about the causes of radioactive pollution more. One of the main ones is a nuclear explosion, as a result of which radioactive irradiation occurs active radioisotopes of soil, water, food, etc.P. In addition, the most important cause of this pollution is the leak of radioactive elements from the reactors. During transportation or storage of radioactive sources, a leak may also occur.
Among the most important radioactive sources should be called the following:
There are many radioactive contaminants. The main one is iodine-131, during the decay of which a mutation occurs and the cells of living organisms die. It enters and settles in the thyroid gland of humans and animals. Strontium-90 is very dangerous, deposited in the bones. Cesium-137 is considered the main pollutant of the biosphere. Among other elements, cobalt-60 and amercium-241 are dangerous.
All these substances get into the air, water, earth. They infect objects of animate and inanimate nature, and at the same time enter the organisms of people, plants and animals. Even if people do not have direct interaction with radioactive substances, cosmic rays have an impact on the biosphere. Such radiation is most intense in the mountains and at the poles of the earth, at the equator it has less effect. Those rocks that lie on the surface of the earth’s crust also emit radiation, especially radium, uranium, thorium, found in granites, basalts and other magnetic rocks.
Consequences of radioactive contamination
Using nuclear weapons, exploiting energy enterprises, extracting certain types of rocks, you can cause significant damage to the biosphere. Accumulating in the body, various radioactive substances affect the cellular level. They reduce the ability to reproduce, which means that the number of plants and animals will decrease, and the problems of people with conceiving children will worsen. In addition, radioactive contamination increases the number of various diseases, including fatal ones.
Radioactive substances have a tremendous impact on all life in our world. They penetrate into the air, water, soil and automatically become part of the biospheric cycle. It is impossible to get rid of harmful substances, but many underestimate their influence.
Radioactive substances can have external and internal effects. There are compounds that accumulate in the body and cause irreparable damage. Especially dangerous substances include tritium, radioisotopes of iodine, thorium, uranium radionuclides. They are able to penetrate the body and move along food chains, tissues. Getting inside, they irradiate a person and slow down the growth processes of a young organism, exacerbate problems in a mature person.
Harmful substances adapt quite easily and have their own characteristics, for example, some of them selectively accumulate in certain organs and tissues. Scientists have found that some substances are able to be transported from plants to the body of farm animals, and then, together with meat and dairy products, enter the human body. As a result, people suffer from liver diseases and problems with the functioning of the genital organs. A particularly dangerous consequence is the effect on offspring.
Radioactive substances can affect the human body in different ways. So, some affect after a few minutes, hours, while others can manifest themselves in a year or even decades. How strong the effect will be depends on the dose of radiation. The dose depends on the power of radiation and the duration of its effect on the body. Obviously, the more a person is in the radioactive zone, the more serious the consequences will be.
Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, and redness (flaking) of the skin are the primary symptoms that may occur. It happens that contact with beta particles can cause radiation burns. They are mild, moderate and severe. More serious consequences include cataracts, infertility, anemia, mutations, changes in blood composition and other diseases. Large doses can cause death.
It has been established that about 25% of radioactive substances that enter the body through the respiratory system remain in it. In this case, internal exposure is many times stronger and more dangerous than external exposure.
Radiation can radically change the human environment and all living organisms on earth.
In the history of mankind, there are two major cases when there was a global radioactive contamination of the planet. These are the accidents at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. Everything in the affected area succumbed to contamination, and people received a huge amount of radiation, which led either to death or to serious diseases and pathologies that are inherited.
All kinds of animals and plants can normally exist in conditions of optimal radiation occurring in the natural environment. However, in the event of accidents or any other catastrophes, radiation pollution leads to serious consequences.