1. Experiments that involves radioactive substances are conducted in a room surrounded by concrete walls. Strong radioactive substances are handled using remote-controlled mechanical arms from a safe distance.
2. Weak radioactive substances could be handled by using tweezers.
3. Radioactive wastes must be disposed off by using suitable and safe methods. Rooms, buildings, containers and radioactive storage places must be labelled with the sign for radioactive substance. Radioactive substances are contained in thick lead containers.
4. Protective suits and gears such as gloves and eye glasses made of lead are used at all times when handling radioactive substances. These shields protect the workers from harmful radiations.
5. Workers handling radioactive substances must wear special badges which detect the amount of radiation they are exposed to. Food and drinks are not allowed in places where radioactive substances are handled.
Low level radioactive wastes
Sources: Hospitals, nuclear power stations, industries, research laboratories.
Examples: Contaminated equipments, shoes, biohazard suit, clothing, wrappers, air filters, gloves, etc.
Radioactivity level: low
Management: Solid wastes are stored
Intermediate level radioactive wastes
Sources: Nuclear power stations, industries, research laboratories
Examples: Component in nuclear reactors, chemical sediments
Half life: long
Radioactivity level: High
Management: Radioactive wastes are placed in concrete block and then buried underground
High level radioactive wastes
Sources: Nuclear power stations
Examples: Fuel rods used in nuclear power stations
Half life: Long
Radioactivity level: High
Management: Fuel rods are submerged in a pool of water to cool them down. The rods are then stored in a steel container which are buried underground at a depth of between 500m and 600m.
Negative effects of radioactive substances
1. Radioactive substances emit radiations that are harmful too living things. This is due to the ionisation and penetrating properties of these radiations.
2. As the radiations pass through living cells, they ionise the neighbouring atoms or molecules. The reactive ions that were produced will
i. Interfere with the chemical processes in the cell.
ii. Induce mutations in the genetic structure of the cell.
3. At the same time, the radiations might kill the cell in body tissues. If there are far too many cells that were destroyed, the organism may die.
4. The amount of damage inflicted to humans depends on the types of radiation, dosage and exposure period, methods of insertion into the body and location of exposure.
i. Types of radiation - Alpha particles outside the body are harmless because they can be stopped by the human skin.
ii. Dosage and exposure - Exposure to high dosage of radiation in a short period of time results in immediate symptoms such as vomitting, increase in body temperature, blood composition change and many more.
iii. Methods of insertion into the body - The internal part of human body can be damaged by alpha particle that were ingested through food or inhaled through air, this is due to the high ionising effect of Alpha particles.
iv. Cells that are actively dividing are more vulnerable to radiations. Skin cells in general can withstand higher dosage of radiation compared to the other internal organ.
5. The harmful effects of radiation on humans can be divided into two categories which can be categorised as Somatic effect or Genetic effect.
i. Somatic effect: includes damage to all parts of the body except the reproductive organs. Symptoms include: fatigue, vomitting, hair loss, infertility in male, severe skin burn and leukemia or cataracts (which may arise after a long period of time).
ii. Genetic effect: includes damage to reproductive cells. Genetic defect can ba passed down to the next generations. Examples of genetic defects include Down Syndrome, Klinefelter Syndrome, Turner Syndrome.
Posted by O Dean at 9:07 AM