Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
Store Icon

Effects of Radioactive Pollution

Last updated date: 24th Apr 2024
Total views: 372.3k
Views today: 4.72k
hightlight icon
highlight icon
highlight icon
share icon
copy icon

What is Radioactive Pollution?

Radioactive pollution refers to the physical pollution of living organisms and their environment. It happens due to the release of radioactive substances into the environment during nuclear explosions and nuclear weapons testing, production and decommissioning of nuclear weapons, the mining of radioactive minerals, the handling, and disposal of radioactive waste, and accidents at nuclear power plants.

What are Radioactive Pollutants?

Radioactive Pollutants: Radioactive contamination sources include the mining and testing of radioactive materials, nuclear power stations, nuclear weapons as well as medical diagnostics and treatment procedures. The key causes of emissions are radionuclides; they release beta particles and gamma rays, radioactive substances, etc.

Sources of Radioactive Pollution

The majority of background radiation originates from rocks, and a small fraction comes from human-made elements. Naturally occurring radioactive minerals contain background radiation in the earth, soil, and water. Some of these naturally occurring radioactive minerals are also present in the human body.

Causes of Radioactive Pollution

Nuclear Accidents From Nuclear Power Plants

Different sources of energy are being discovered in the postmodern world. Among them is nuclear energy, which, due to its high latent strength, is touted as the most efficient source of energy.

Usage of Radioisotope

For the development of detectors and in other manufacturing operations, radioisotopes are used. Isotopes like uranium have high radiation concentrations in them. On the other hand, common isotopes such as radioactive material containing carbon can be easily discovered via sewage lines in waterways.

Mining Sectors

Mining primarily includes the mineral ores being excavated, which are then divided into smaller, manageable parts. Radium and uranium, for example, are naturally occurring and similarly radioactive in the environment.

Radioactive Materials Spillage

When ships strike glaciers or coral reefs and end up dumping contaminants on rivers and in the environment, there have been cases of spillages across oceans. Many of these substances have a large amount of radiation, including petroleum products, which can be harmful to the environment.

Radiation Checks

It has been shown that radiation has a lot of fascinating properties, which has inspired a lot of scientists to perform experiments to learn more about it. It is one of the main elements in cancer cure and treatment.

Defensive Weapon Development

Generally, the manufacturing of defensive weapons capable of releasing radioactivity from the nuclear materials treated poses a high health risk. However, unless an event happens, the existing guidelines would not allow the release of any substantial amount of radiation.

Effects of Radioactive Pollution


The most dominant illness linked to radiation is cancer. Over the years, it has grown and poses a great danger to global health. Others include leukaemia, anaemia, haemorrhage, a decline in the lifespan leading to premature ageing and premature death, as well as other complications such as cardiovascular disease. For example, leukaemia is caused in the bone marrow by radiation.

Infertility of Soil

Radiation exposure to the environment means that it is present even in the soil. The radioactive contaminants in the soil react together with the various nutrients that cause the nutrients to be lost, making the soil highly toxic and infertile. Such soil contributes to the harvesting of crops that are riddled with radiation and, thus, unfit for human and animal consumption.


It is not easy to experience radiation, but it is easy to know that it has shaped you. Evidence is the acute appearance of burns, red lesions, and sores. This will result in skin cancer, to make it worse.

Radioactive Pollution and Cell Damage

When it comes to cell modification, radioactive contamination has a variety of consequences. Living organisms' bodies are unique in that they include millions of cells, each of which performs a specific function. Radioactive contamination has been shown to alter current cells, resulting in irreversible tissue and organ damage. In circumstances of extreme radiation exposure, permanent sickness and death are not uncommon.

As a result, radioactive pollution is a major hazard to both human life and the ecosystem as a whole. It is for this reason that radioactive waste must be properly disposed of.

Effects on Plant Life

Plants are also exposed to radiation, and much of the damage is caused by increased UV waves. Similar plants are differently affected. During the rise in radiation, the stomata avoid evaporating. Reproduction is hindered when the radiation reaches the chromosomes. In plants, it results in altered types, sizes, and health.

How can we Prevent Radioactive Pollution?

The disposal of radiation waste cannot be carried out through chemical or biological processes via degradation. Also, many radioactive materials have very long half-lives (time taken for the degradation or transformation of half of the material into non-radioactive materials). Thus, radiation waste can pose a danger for many years after its development. There are essentially just a few choices for the disposal of radiation waste involving:

Waste containment in radiation-shielded containers that are typically buried underground.

Radiation waste isolation in remote areas, such as remote caves or abandoned mines, may also require the use of barriers of some sort (shields). The waste should be diluted until the background values are reached if the first two solutions are not feasible.

FAQs on Effects of Radioactive Pollution

1.How does Radioactive Pollution Occur?

Radioactive contamination occurs when radioactive materials are present or deposited in the atmosphere or environment, especially where their existence is accidental and where they pose an environmental danger due to radioactive decay. Emissions of harmful ionizing radiation (radioactive decay) such as beta or alpha particles, gamma rays, or neutrons in the atmosphere where they reside are responsible for the damage caused by radioactive materials.

Since the substances are characterized by radiation, they can severely impact, change and even kill a plant, animal, and human life. It is because there is a lot of instability of the particles found in the radioactive materials. Radioactive contamination occurs when radioactive materials are present or deposited in the atmosphere or environment, especially where their existence is accidental and where they pose an environmental danger due to radioactive decay.

2.What are the genetic mutations that occur as a result of radioactive waste exposure?

When it comes to genetics, radiation is known to have a wide range of negative consequences. Radioactive contamination damages DNA strands, which can lead to genetic breakage in some cases (over somewhat long periods of time). The extent of the genetic mutation, which can lead to changes in the DNA composition, is known to vary depending on the amount and type of radiation to which the organism has been exposed.