• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12

Should radioactive smoke alarms be a compulsory purchase?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Finn O Hurley

Should radioactive smoke alarms be made a compulsory purchase for all home owners in the UK?

I am going to discuss whether radioactive smoke alarms should be made a compulsory purchase for home owners in the UK.  I will describe how they work and their advantages and disadvantages.  I will also examine an alternative to radioactive smoke alarms and describe its advantages and disadvantages.  Using data from the fire and rescue service I shall identify trends and patterns I have found for fires that have occurred over the last few years, both with, and without smoke alarms.  Finally, based on my research I shall give my opinion on which smoke alarms are the best, whether more than one type of smoke alarm is desirable and whether the purchase of radioactive smoke alarms should be compulsory for home owners in the UK.

Diagram 1[1]

image00.png

A radioactive smoke alarm works in a similar way to the human nose in that it uses a kind of chemistry to spot unusual molecules (smoke) heading inward.   The alarm contains a radioactive form of a chemical element called Americium 241. The americium 241 is placed beside a small ionising chamber.  The chamber consists of two plates connected to a battery.  As I said, Americium 241 is radioactive which means it is unstable and is trying to stabilise itself by emitting alpha particles.  Alpha particles have a charge of +2, and are made of two protons and two neutrons. Because of their charge, they ionise (combine with other particles to produce positive or negatively charged particles) very quickly.  When the alpha particles enter the ionizing chamber they collide with the air particles it contains and ionize them.  This means that the atoms within the chamber lose one electron, leaving a positively charged atom.

...read more.

Middle

[7]are detected by alarms, whilst the number of households with non-functioning or absent alarms is decreasing.  This would seem to indicate a greater awareness of fire alarms and fires generally, since the total number of fires is also decreasing.  

Year

Present, operated and raised the alarm

Absent or present but failed to raise the alarm

Total number of fires

2000

17,899

53,000

70,899

2001

17,676

51,371

69,047

2002

17,600

47,366

64,966

2003

18,821

45,002

63,823

2004

19,221

40,522

59,743

Here is the same data in the form of a chart:

1=2000image07.png

2=2001

3=2002

4=2003

5=2004

In the table below I separate the statistics for fires in which a smoke alarm was:

  • present and raised the alarm
  • present, operational but did not raise the alarm
  • present but not operating
  • absent.  

image08.png

This table reveals a general decrease in the number of fires in which a smoke alarm was absent and a slight increase in the numbers of fires that were detected by a working smoke alarm.  Bearing in mind that there was decrease of about 15% in the total number of fires in this period the picture is still an improving one in terms of the number of fires detected by a working alarm.  The numbers of fires not detected by an operational alarm, or an alarm that was operational but did not raise the alarm, remains fairly constant.  This suggests that alarms have either not improved in their reliability over this period or that similar numbers of people are either not maintaining their alarms correctly or are deactivating them due to nuisance alarms.

The trends I have described above are slightly more easy to observe in the pie charts below which show the presence and operation of smoke alarms as a percentage of the fires that occurred in two years, 2000 and 2004

image09.png

image10.png

When expressed

...read more.

Conclusion


Glossary

Alpha particles: the nucleus of a helium atom, carrying a positive charge of 2c.  Its proton number and neutron number are both 2 so it is a very stable particle

Americium-a radioactive element.  This means it is unstable and is trying to stabilise itself by emitting particles.

Atom-the smallest part of an element that can take part in a chemical reaction.

Current-a flow of electricity

Electron-an elementary particle that has a negative charge.

Resistor – a piece of electrical apparatus possessing resistance

Appendix

GCSEscience.com

www.explainthatstuff..com/smokedetector.html

Queensland Fire and Rescue website

Wilshire Fire and Rescue Service website

Fire Statistics United Kingdom 2004


[1] www.gcse.science.comx

[2] www.explainthatstuff..com/smokedetector.html

[3] Queensland Fire and Rescue website

[4] Wilshire Fire and Rescue Service website

[5] Explainthatstuff.com

[6] Page 37 Fire and Rescue Service Data

[7] NB: The fire service estimate that over four fifths of fires are detected early enough for owners to deal with them themselves and do not involve the actions of the Fire and Rescue Service and so are not included in these statistics

[8]The ratio of fatalities in fires with working alarms compared to those in fires where there is no working alarm or no alarm at all does not take into account the fact that four fifths of fires in dwellings are not even included in the statistics since the presence of a fire alarm alerted the occupiers to the fire so quickly that the services of the Fire and Rescue service were not even required.  The efficiency of smoke alarms is therefore vastly underestimated.

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Radioactivity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Radioactivity essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Ionisation smoke alarms use an ionisation chamber and a source of ionising radiation to ...

    3 star(s)

    energy and stops, causing no harm.[8] Alpha decay is a process that an unstable atom can use to become more stable. During alpha decay, an unstable atom nucleus releases two neutrons and two protons. As a consequence of alpha decay, losing protons and neutrons means that the element has changed

  2. Are mobile phones harmful to our health

    "These issues have been dealt with in depth by whom and fact sheets were issued for the factual information of everyone," he said. "The information in these fact sheets is current and no research has been published to alter the conclusions in the WHO fact sheets."

  1. X-ray report

    The latest X-ray device, used with no dyes, produces clear images of any part of the anatomy, including soft organ tissues. Called the body scanner it rotates 180� around a patient's body, distributing out a pencil-thin X-ray beam at 160 different points.

  2. research and report

    There is an equation to caculate the energy of radiation on our skin which is Stefan's Law. Here is a basic circuit of an thermographic camera: Fig 5 What is Black body? I had mention black body in the previous paragraph and now I am going to explain it.

  1. Smoke Alarms Assignment In this CDA I will be explaining how smoke alarms work, ...

    Any smoke that comes into the chamber will interrupt the ion flow and cause a reduction in current flow that sets off the alarm. Ionization models are best suited for rooms that contain highly combustible materials that can create flaming fires.

  2. The aim of this study is to find out how harmful sunbeds are for ...

    There are some warnings that people under 16 are advised not to use sunbeds as the radiation can damage physical and internal properties, e.g. skin ageing. This is because young peoples skin is thinner than adults and they haven't grown fully yet.

  1. Radiation: are mobile phones unsafe? Mobiles use electromagnetic radiation in order to send and ...

    that the researchers spent a very large amount of money on the study - �8.8 million! This shows they must have been very dedicated with their plan to find out about the effects of mobile phone use. By being dedicated, they would have taken great care trying to get the

  2. REsearch into the dangers of sunbeds.

    However, a regular, short dose of ultraviolet exposure, in particular UVB exposure, is believed to reduce the risk of several cancers. What is a skin? The skin is one of the most amazing organs in the human body. It is hard for us to think about it as an organ;

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work