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Radiation Pollution and Case Studies

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Radiation Pollution - Case Studies Introduction Radioactive substances like radium and uranium emit invisible radiations, which are in the form of alpha, beta and gamma particles. The increase in the levels of radiation in the earth's atmosphere beyond the normal levels is called radiation pollution. The two main sources of radiation pollution are man- made and natural reasons a) Man-made sources of radiation pollution are: - * Medical procedures like CAT Scan, X-Rays and radiation Therapy. * Production of nuclear energy in nuclear power plants and by industrial radiography. * Use of nuclear weapons like the nuclear bomb and atom bomb. * Use of radioactive elements in research laboratories. b) Natural sources of radiation pollution are: - * Terrestrial radiations given out by elements in the earth's surface like Radium, Uranium, etc. * UV rays from the sun. * Cosmic rays given from other heavenly bodies. Sources Millrems (Units) Percentage Medical 14 4.00% Nuclear 14 4.00% Other 10 3.00% Radioactive substances 240 63.00% Cosmic 48 13.00% Terrestrial 48 13.00% Main Environmental Pathways of Human Radiation Exposure There have been cases in which man-made activities have resulted in the large-scale increase in radiation levels and have had adverse effects on the people. ...read more.


In the rush for nuclear weapon production, overly simple methods of waste disposal were used. Cool water from the Techa River was pumped through the reactors as a coolant and after being used, was dumped back into the Techa River (it amounted to 2.6 billion feet between 1949 and 1956). The radiation in the surrounding areas was 100 times more than the normal levels. The government soon ordered the discontinuation of dumping of the waste in the river. A storage facility, Kystym was soon built where the nuclear wastes were stored for a year to reduce its radioactivity. In 1957, the cooling system in of the tanks failed leading to its explosion and subsequent deposition of 20 million Ci of radiation into atmosphere. The radiations formed a radioactive cloud, which extended over 5 miles and affected 270000 people spread over 23000 sq. km. Due to this explosion, agricultural productivity reduced and meat and dairy products were contaminated. Also, while the storage was being built, the Lake Karachay was used as the dumping ground for irradiated water. ...read more.


Studies in the affected areas showed that over a million people were exposed to the radiation and about 6000 newborns had thyroid cancer. The number of cases of leukemia also increased dramatically. The Russian government then built a huge concrete dome around the destroyed reactor to prevent any further radiations from escaping but the structure is not viable and strong enough. The government has decided to invest one billion dollars to improve the technology in the other nuclear reactors and to find a better solution to the problem at Unit 4. Increased Radiation Dose Across Europe Chernobyl Unit 4 Nuclear Power Center Effects of radiation on children, released because of the mishap at Unit 4 The above case studies are an eye opener to the world that till what extent any country can go to be in race to become super power nation and have total disregard to the human safety, pollution. Whether science is a boon or curse to the mankind is a topic of debate in true sense. - By Anuj Shah ...read more.

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