Radiation refers to the energy traveling through space in the form of waves or particles. Depending on the energy these particles constitutes, radiation forms two categories, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation carries more than 10eV and includes alpha, beta, and gamma radiation along with x-rays and cosmic rays. Where ionizing radiation has the potential of ionizing an atom by breaking chemical bonds and removing electrons, non-ionizing radiation changes only electronic valence configurations in atoms and molecules. Both kinds of radiations provide merits and demerits to the environment and human health.
Positive effects of radiation:
Radiation provides merits in every field and sector.
Huge x-rays benefits
Ionizing radiation’s property of ionizing atoms provides numerous advantages to the medical practitioners. Larger and smaller atoms have distinct potential to absorb these ionized atoms. For example, in a human body, the bone and soft tissues have different x-rays absorption quantity. The absorption difference helps physicians to examine human body structure. Doctors use x-rays to detect cancers and broken bones, which blocks such radiations.
Health and medicine advantages
Radiation finds use in the diagnosis, treatment, and research applications. It stimulates the immune system, prevents oxidative DNA damage, and suppresses cancer. Beta particle, which releases when a neutron decays into a proton in a nucleus, is capable of penetrating the human body. Due to this favorable characteristic, beta radiation assists radiotherapy to treat tumors. Also, doctors find many diseases by injecting radioactive material into the body.
In communication area
Today, all communication systems use forms of electromagnetic radiation. For example, broadcasting use radio waves to distribute audio and video content to the end user. Navigation system utilizes radio waves and other signals to detect various vehicles, vessels, and obstacles from one point to another. The wireless communication through cell phones is a boon provided by radiations to the humanity and human beings, in particular.
To determine the ages of various ancient organisms, researchers employ a process called radiocarbon dating, that uses radiations to measure the amount of radioactive carbon in the remains of an organism. And radiometric dating calculates the age of rocks with the help of radiations, which compare radioactive isotopes within the material. Radiations also find application in neutron activation analysis, which determines the composition of a material.
Radiation enhances mutation and helps in producing new species. Where it increases an improved population of a specific species, it contributes to limit another one with the process of sterilization. To eliminate an epidemic, governments allow an option of sterilizing a particular mosquito to diminish their population. Lately, biologists sterilize the male aedes aegypti to prevent expansion of female aedes aegypti, who caused dengue in several cities in India.
Provides better living
Radiation favors in processing the pollution amount in an area, and thereby, gives an indication to decrease the causes of such pollutants. In winter, it helps in keeping the house warm with its emission from electric heaters. A microwave oven at home use radiations to cook delicious food items.
Negative effects of radiation:
Radiation possesses the potential for long-lasting adverse effects.
Ionizing radiation removes the electrons from the atoms or molecules. This characteristic of radiation can damage a DNA in the living cells. In human beings, an exposure to the ionizing radiation increases the risk of cancer. Though employed in numerous medical practices, an improper use or high dose of ionizing radiation engenders skin burns, hair loss, internal organ failure, or even death. The inhaling or swallowing of alpha radiation particles can cause severe damage to living tissues.
Change material properties
Radiation helps in configuring the material composition. But, this application can disrupt the physical properties of a material. For example, radiations make a plastic or steel weak, which lead to the cracks and eventually, breaking of a material. A small break can prove disastrous in big machines.
Environment and economy disruption
Nuclear radiation occurs in the nuclear reactor, which requires effective shielding, owing to the lethal effects of nuclear radiation. The nuclear reactor damage leads to significant amount of radioactivity release, which impacts the environment and human health. In Japan, Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 shut down fifty sic nuclear power plants in the country.
The opinions regarding radiation are different in every community, depending on the amount it favored or disrupted them. Where doctors approve the wide usage of radiation, environmentalists protests against its application following nuclear reactors incidents. The decision-making after considering every angle relies on the hands of governments and leaders of nations across the globe. Thus, it’s their duty to implement strict regulations to prevent related disasters, make provisions and measures, and create awareness among masses about its usefulness and restrictions.