Major Effects of Radioactive Pollution!
Different forms of radiation have different effects. Visible light and infrared heat rays and certain kinds of radiation are generally beneficial.
Some of the other forms of radiation, for example. X-rays, are more energetic and are therefore, biologically injurious because of their destructive action on cells and tissues. Because these highly energetic forms of radiation tend to split substances, including living matter, into ions, they are called ionising radiation.
The other forms include electromagnetic radiation and particulate radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is highly injurious to the tissues of some organisms. It is well recognised that sun-burn is caused largely by the ultraviolet content of the sun’s radiation and that excessive exposure can cause serious injury to both the superficial and deep layers of the skin.
The environmental hazards from fission reactors include:
(i) The possibility of a serious accident that releases a large amount of radioactivity, (ii) the hazard of even the usual small radioactive emissions with normal operations, and (iii) the pollution caused by radioactive wastes. The fate of a radioactive contaminant is also dependent on ecological conditions.
Radioactive pollution causes deposition of the contaminants on ground and surface waters. The water consumed by plants thus acts as a medium for radioactivity. This contamination is passed on to vegetation and animals through the nourishment from soil and water.
Man is considered to be the ultimate sufferer through reactions and interactions. Radioactive particles present in air have a direct impact on man’s respiratory system, while indirect contamination occurs by consumption through the food chain. The ill-effects of radioactive pollution are numerous. Radiation can cause cancers, abnormal births, skin diseases and mutations in man. Chronic exposure to radiations leads to leukemia in an individual and even affects an unborn child in the womb.
The radiations from medical X-rays colour TV, luminous dials of clocks and watches and X-ray fluoroscopes are also contributing to the risks. As described earlier, any leakage of radioactivity from reactors is not only a health hazard but also a cause of death and other disorders to thousands of people. Similarly, nuclear testing in sea waters not only creates disorder in the oceanic ecosystem but becomes a cause of the destruction of marine life too.