Nuclear Pollution: Definition, Causes, and Effects

What is Nuclear Pollution?

Nuclear pollution, also called Radioactive contamination, is the deposition of, or presence of radioactive substances on surfaces or within solids, liquids, or gases (including the human body), where their presence is unintended or undesirable. Pollution of the atmosphere by radiation and radioactive particles is called nuclear pollution.

Such contamination presents a hazard because of the radioactive decay of the contaminants, which produces such harmful effects as ionizing radiation (namely alpha, beta, and gamma rays) and free neutrons.

The degree of hazard is determined by the concentration of the contaminants, the energy of the radiation being emitted, the type of radiation, and the proximity of the contamination to organs of the body. It is important to be clear that the contamination gives rise to the radiation hazard, and the terms “radiation” and “contamination” are not interchangeable.

The sources of radioactive pollution can be classified into two groups: natural and man-made. Following an atmospheric nuclear weapon discharge or a nuclear reactor containment breach, the air, soil, people, plants, and animals in the vicinity will become contaminated by nuclear fuel and fission products.

Nuclear power reactors do not produce direct carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants, nuclear reactors do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while operating. However, the processes for mining and refining uranium ore and making reactor fuel all require large amounts of energy.

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Nuclear power plants also have large amounts of metal and concrete, which require large amounts of energy to manufacture. If fossil fuels are used for mining and refining uranium ore, or if fossil fuels are used when constructing the nuclear power plant, then the emissions from burning those fuels could be associated with the electricity that nuclear power plants generate.

What is Radioactive Pollution?

Radioactive pollution is defined as the physical pollution of living organisms and their environment as a result of the release of radioactive substances into the environment during nuclear explosions and testing of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapon production and decommissioning, mining of radioactive ores, handling and disposal of radioactive waste, and accidents at nuclear power plants.

Nuclear tests are carried out to determine the effectiveness, yield, and explosive capability of nuclear weapons. The proportion of radioactive pollution is 15% of the total energy of the explosion.

Radioactive pollution of water, water sources, and air space is the result of radioactive fallout from the cloud of a nuclear explosion. Radionuclides are the main sources of pollution; they emit beta particles and gamma rays, radioactive substances.

Nuclear pollution

Causes of Nuclear Pollution

Most activities involving radioactive substances have the potential to contaminate the environment. Contains

1. Nuclear weapons test

Beginning with the Second World War when the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were defeated by Japan after the use of atomic bombs, countries are in the race to develop their nuclear weapons in the name of defense, but more threat to rival countries is.

They were led by America, Russia, Britain, France, and China. Nowadays n. Korea, Iran, and many developing countries are equipped to make these weapons.

Weapons testing involves explosions called an atmospheric layer called the stratosphere. The debris from the explosion then comes back to Earth as radiation. Some radiation is absorbed by our atmosphere.

But some part of it reaches the falling earth at places that are far away from the place where the weapon was initially released. This is called Fallout. When these particles settle on vegetation and are eaten by animals, they enter the food chain.

When the fallout settles over the sea, the ocean ecosystem is affected and re-enters the food chain.

2. Nuclear Power plants

Rapid nuclear energy from radioactive fuels is used to heat water into steam. Steam is then used to turn on the turbines which in turn act as generators to produce electricity. A small amount of radiation is released into the water during this process, which can then be the cause of nuclear pollution.

Nuclear Plant

3. Improper Disposal of Spent Nuclear fuel.

Spent nuclear fuel consists of very active radioactive atoms that sometimes last for about 600yrs or more. These should be dealt with very carefully, with strict rules in well-specified locations.

But the fact is that many governments approve the dumping of nuclear fuel from their country as much as possible. The popular dumping ground of many countries was the Pacific Ocean.

Greenpeace, an organization dedicated to preserving the environment and protecting the Earth from pollution, has noted this activity and has opposed it enthusiastically.

Some plants spent fuel in underground water pools because they release a high amount of heat and need to be cooled. There is always a danger of contaminating the groundwater and the surrounding land, seeping into the nearby land.

A small-scale radioactive waste generated in clinical imaging in the health sector.

4. Accident/damage to Nuclear Power Plants

This was the most famous Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia in 1986. The result of this accident was felt in three countries – Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. The area around the reactor is still polluted and not suitable for habitat or farming.

On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was another recent accident. The main reactors and supplementary generators were severely damaged due to the tsunami earthquake.

Inadequate preparation to deal with an incident of this scale was also a factor that leads to the hydrogen explosion and the leakage of radioactive material into groundwater.

Effects of Nuclear Pollution

  • The effect of nuclear pollution is seen on every organism in the environment, from bacteria to plants to humans. Nothing spared.
  • Experience radiation sickness, closest to and closest to the source. In small doses of 75–200 reams. One experiences vomiting, fatigue, and loss of appetite. There is a high risk of 300 REM and more changes in blood cells and bleeding. There is the loss of hair above 600 REM, immune loss usually ranges from a few days to weeks. Radiation causes changes in the body’s cell and gene structure, such as the bone marrow, skin, intestine, lymphoid tissue, and fetus.
  • Those exposed from far away may not see any immediate symptoms. But various forms of cancer tend to develop and have a shorter life span. Radiation also causes cell mutations that can be transferred to the next generation.
  • The fetus is affected by birth defects and cancer. Their lifespan may also be shorter.
  • Plants die and show some genetic changes and enhanced growth. Animals are also affected and do not survive very long.
  • Radiation will not dissolve quickly in the atmosphere. Every water source will also be affected. In fact, it may take years or centuries to reach a point where such a place may be habitable.
  • An average person will be exposed to about 180 milliliters of radiation a year through exposure to natural radiation, medical and dental X-rays, color TV, airport baggage X-rays, etc.

Prevention of Nuclear pollution

  • The right safety gear, such as a lead apron, must be worn while undergoing X-rays or radiation therapy procedures. It also includes pregnant women. It is also mandatory to use lead sheathed walls in imaging facilities.
  • As a person, one should be aware of the dangers of nuclear pollution. If living in the vicinity of a nuclear plant or planning someone’s planning, the person’s authority should be exercised to ensure that the governing body for the manufacture, implementation, and disposal of waste is fully planned Have been. Ensure that officers are prepared in the event of a disaster so that they can handle all situations such as arranging evacuation to avoid contamination.
  • Workers are always monitored for the amount of radiation they were exposed to while working at a radiation facility or a nuclear plant.
  • Radioactive waste can actually be recycled to a great extent as useable fuel is still being made into useless materials that can later be reclaimed.
  • Governments are authorizing research on developing better means for the disposal of radioactive waste. The most viable method now appears to be deep underground storage of waste.
  • Power plants must ensure that radioactive fuel and waste are transported and disposed of in safe containers that are long-lasting and unbreakable.
  • Operating agencies need to ensure that radioactive material does not fall into the wrong hands, which they sell for profit to those in the waging war business.

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