Radiation: the main characteristics and the most popular misconceptions

Radioactivity refers to nuclear shakiness in some atoms. It can manifest itself in their susceptibility to spontaneous transformations (to use the scientific term - decays), accompanied by the generation of ionizing radiation, in other words - radiation. The energy component of such emissions is quite significant, as a result, it can affect substances with the process of creating new ions of various signs. Causing radiation through a chemical reaction is impossible, because it is an entirely physical process.

Radiation is distinguished in the form:

  • Alpha particles - relatively heavy particles, positively charged, representing helium nuclei;
  • Beta particles - ordinary electrons;
  • Gamma radiation - having the same nature as light, but with much greater penetrating power;
  • Neutrons - such electrically neutral particles, arising mainly in the vicinity of operating atomic reactors, the approaches to which should be strictly limited;
  • X-rays - similar to gamma radiation, but with less energy.

It should be noted that the Sun is one of the natural sources of such radiation, but the earth's atmosphere protects the planet from this type of radiation.

Varieties of radiation

The most dangerous for people are alpha, beta and gamma radiation, which can lead to serious illnesses, including genetic disorders, as well as death. The level of radiation exposure on people's well-being is completely dependent on the type of radiation, its duration, and frequency. From this it follows that the effects of radiation can be either with a one-time interaction with the source, or about multiple.

So, for example, if you store low-level radioactive objects at home, in particular antiques, radiation-treated precious stones or radioactive plastic items, the impact cannot be avoided.

Radioactivity units

Radioactivity is measured in Becquerels (BC), which corresponds to one decay per second. The level of radioactivity in substances is also often evaluated in units of weight - Bq / kg, or in volumes - Bq / cu. m³. Sometimes you can meet such a unit - Curie (Ci). It is an expression of a huge amount equal to 37 billion Bq. In the process of decomposition of substances, sources emit ionizing radiation, the measure of which is the exposure dose. They are measured by X-rays (P). One X-ray is a fairly significant value, which is why in practice the millionth (μR) or thousandth (mR) share of X-rays is usually used.

Household dosimeters measure ionization processes for a certain time. It is not the exposure dose itself that is meant, but only the level of its power. The unit of measure is the micro x-ray / hour. Actually this indicator is considered the most important for people, thanks to it, it is possible to make an assessment of the danger of one or another source of radiation.

The effect of radiation on people's health

The effect of radiation on the human body is called radiation. During this exposure, radioactive energy is introduced into the cells, while destroying them. Irradiation can manifest a wide variety of diseases, such as infectious complications, metabolic disorders, malignant tumors and leukemia, infertility, cataracts, and much more. Especially extremely acute radiation can affect the process of cell division, because of this, it is extremely dangerous for the child's body.

The human body can respond not so much to the radiation itself as to its sources. Penetration of radioactive substances into the body can occur in different ways. For example, its appearance in the intestines can occur when eating or drinking water, in the lungs - during breathing, and on the skin or through it when conducting medical diagnostics using radioisotopes. This will be the so-called internal exposure.

How to remove radiation from the body? This question is undoubtedly asked by many people. For example, it is known that by consuming certain foods, as well as vitamins, it is possible to assist the body in cleaning it from minor radioactive doses. Although at the time of the Chernobyl disaster there were rumors that the KGB knew how to remove the radiation while in the zone and left it without harm to the body. Speculation relied on the fact that they allegedly took inside some special top secret activated carbon or some kind of analogue.

Are computers also sources of radiation?

Such questions in the era of computer technology and technology worry many people. The only elements in computers that, in theory, can be radioactive, are only monitors, in particular, electroluche ones. In modern displays, liquid crystal and plasma, radioactive properties are not observed.

In CRT monitors, as in televisions, weak sources of radiation are observed, but these are x-ray types of radiation. They occur on the internal surfaces of the glass screens. The substantial thickness of these glasses, and absorbs most of them. At present, it was not possible to detect any negative effect of CRT monitors on the state of health, and in the case of general use of liquid crystal monitors, such issues will lose their relevance.

Can people be sources of radiation?

When exposed to radiation on human organisms, the latter do not produce radioactive substances, that is, people do not turn into sources of radiation themselves. Incidentally, the production of X-rays, in spite of widespread ideas, is also safe for people. Consequently, in contrast to diseases, radiation injuries from one person to another cannot be transmitted; however, the presence of radioactive objects carrying charges can be dangerous.

How are radiation levels measured?

Basically, radiation levels are measured using dosimeters. The presence of such household appliances is indispensable for those who intend to protect themselves from the most harmful and sometimes deadly radioactive effects. The main purpose of household dosimeters is to measure doses of radiation in places where people are located, as well as the examination of any objects or objects. These can be cargoes, construction materials, money, food, children's toys, etc. They acquire instruments that measure radiation levels, mainly people who are often in areas with radioactive contamination, in particular caused by the Chernobyl accident. It should be noted that such foci exist almost in most regions of the European part of Russia.

Dosimeters also help those who are in unfamiliar territories that are remote from civilizations, for example, in hikes, in gathering mushrooms and berries, as well as in hunting. A prerequisite, especially recently, is considered to be a survey on the presence of radiation safety of places intended for building or acquiring houses, summer cottages, gardens or land plots; otherwise, such acquisitions can bring only mortal danger or serious diseases.

Cleaning food, earth, or objects from radiation is almost impossible, as modern scientists say. Although there are, of course, unconfirmed data that the installations for such purification have existed for a long time, at least since the times of Chernobyl, but for some unknown reasons they are classified. Thus, the only available way to protect yourself and your family remains to keep from all of this as far as possible. With the help of household dosimeters, it is possible to identify potentially dangerous sources.

What are the myths about radiation

In the minds of people today there are different opinions about radiation: the use of iodine or lead to protect against radiation, green glow of radioactive substances and other myths. Is it possible to debunk such peri-scientific myth-making and overcome common misconceptions? What does science say?

Radiation "created" by people


Natural radiation in itself. In particular, as a result of solar radiation, the generation of a radiation background also occurs. In the south, where, as you know, there is a very bright and hot sun, the natural radiation background is rather high. Of course, it is not destructive for people, but it is higher than in the countries of the northern hemisphere. In addition, there is cosmic radiation, which from open space reaches our planet and meets with the atmosphere.

Lead walls protect against radiation

Partial truth

Explaining this point of view, it is advisable to deal with some points. First, there are several types of radiation, which in turn are associated with a wide variety of types of propagating particles. For example, the available alpha radiation effectively ionizes everything around. However, they can delay ordinary outerwear. Thus, if people are in front of sources of alpha radiation, and they are wearing at the same time, and even wearing glasses, then nothing terrible threatens them.

Beta radiation has lower ionizing susceptibility, but this is more deeply penetrating radiation. But it can also be stopped, for example, with the help of a small layer of aluminum foil.

Well, and gamma radiation, which have, when compared with the same intensity, the lowest ionizing ability. At the same time, they have the best penetrating characteristic, as a result, they are considered the most dangerous. Thus, in whatever protective suits people may be in front of gamma sources, they are still powerless and in any case will receive their dose of radiation.

Actually, protection from gamma radiation is mostly associated in humans with the presence of lead cellars, bunkers and other similar attributes. Of course, the same thickness of the lead layer will be much more effective than the same layers, for example, concrete or wooden shelters. Lead is not a magical material, although it has the most important parameter - high density. Actually, due to the high density, lead materials were in fact often used in defenses of the mid-20th century, at the height of the nuclear arms race. However, lead has a certain toxicity, which is why today, for the same purpose, people prefer to use, for example, thicker layers of concrete.

Eating iodine can protect against radiation contamination.


The use of iodine or any of its compounds is absolutely not opposed to the negative effects of radiation. So why do physicians recommend taking iodine when man-made disasters occur, in which radionuclides are released into the atmosphere? And all because when in the atmosphere or in the water the presence of radioactive iodine-131 is detected, it very quickly penetrates into human organisms. After that, it accumulates in the thyroid glands, with a sharp increase in the risk of developing cancer and other diseases associated with these "tender" organs. In advance of "filling to the maximum" iodine depots in the thyroid glands, it is possible to reduce the seizure of radioactive iodine and, consequently, to protect tissues from further accumulations of radiation.

All radioactive substances necessarily glow

Partial truth

Everything that is somehow connected with the radioactive luminescence is called by the specialists radioluminescence, and this is not considered to be extremely widespread. Moreover, it is usually not caused by the glow of the radioactive materials themselves, but occurs when the emitted radiation interacts with the surrounding materials.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, at the peak of public interest in radioactive materials, various radium was added to various household appliances, medicines, and much more, including the paint for the hands of watches and the color of the dial. Basically this paint was the basis of zinc sulfide, mixed with copper. Radium impurities emitted radioactive radiation, and when interacting with the paint glowed green.

Radiation exposure will necessarily lead to mutations


Indeed, the process of radioactive radiation can lead to a wide variety of damage in the DNA-helices. In order to restore a complete system of genes, in the process of reparation, the damaged areas are filled with random nucleotides. This is one of the options for the emergence of a new type of mutation.

For all that, it is desirable not to forget that people are pretty well protected from background radioactive radiation. The presence of background radiation may not necessarily damage the DNA helix. Sometimes, if one of the two chains is damaged, then it can always recover using a backup second chain.

Watch the video: Natural Selection - Crash Course Biology #14 (December 2019).


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