2013-03-27

Realising the importance of proper management of radioactive substances


Negative effects of radioactive substances

Radioactive substances emit radiations that are harmful to living things. This is due to the ionisation and penetrating properties of these radiations.

As the radiations pass through living cells, they ionise the neighbouring atoms or molecules. The reactive ions that are produced will

i. Interfere with the chemical processes in the cell.
ii. Induce mutations in the genetic structure of the cell.

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.

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.

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, vomiting, 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 be passed down to the next generations. Examples of genetic defects include Down Syndrome, Klinefelter Syndrome, Turner Syndrome.


1 comment:

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