Radioactive Materials: Applications, Hazards and Biosafety Measures

Posted on September 25, 2011 in Sci-Tech

By Ajay Rana:


Radioactive materials are the substances having property of emitting light and particles which can be utilized for various modern applications and energy meet discussed below briefly or else are extremely hazardous for the life system on earth. They are routinely used in academics, industries and nuclear power plants for a wide range of research and applications. Unfortunately due to their deleterious effect on humans and other life systems, they impose a heavy duty on their production, utilization, application, maintenance and disposal. Radioactive substances cause mutations which may have life threatening repercussions or may pass the stigmatized mutation to the next generation. Surely they are dumped as radioactive waste after application is over and full precaution is taken before the operation of the radioactive material. Finally the radioactive substance is disposed off to an abandoned dump in an appropriate non-leaky waste container.

Types of radioactive materials used in Academics and Industries:

Radioactive materials may be naturally occurring like H3 or synthetically prepared like F18. Academics and Industries utilize radioactive sources for a wide range of research and applications and cannot be discontinued due to their inevitable useful applications to meet the growing demands of ever increasing population. Nuclear power plants are now established in every country and they utilize radioactive elements to generate tremendous amount energy in terms of electricity not feasible by any other means. Some of the radioactive elements are used to measure the age of water, sand, soil, rocks etc up to millions of years old. Some of them are used in medical sciences to image and diagnose normally untraceable diseases.

Recent Hazardous Cases:

The frequent leak of radioactive emissions largely from nuclear power plants put the public at high risk to life. The aftermath consequences of 6th and 9th August 1945 (IInd World War) atomic bomb explosion and radioactive damage says all the terrible repercussions still the Japanese are bearing from generation to generation. Not due to misuse but still due to mishandling or inappropriate precautions there are several cases that has been reported in 2010.

1. On 02.04.10, BARC scientists identified the material which led to a “very powerful” radiation in a west Delhi industrial area as Cobalt-60, the exposure to which left five persons injured including one seriously.

2. On 28.05.2010 Saint-Etienne (France) French nuclear safety authorities says six people have been contaminated by a leak of radioactive cobalt in a foundry.

3. On 30.05.2010, scientists have reported radioactive Leak at U.S. Nuke Vermont Yankee nuclear power Plant.

4. On 05.10.2010, a small amount of radioactive substances was confirmed to have leaked from a cracked pipe at a nuclear power complex in Ibaraki Prefecture, eastern Japan, Japan Atomic Energy Agency said.

Biosafety Measures:

Extreme precautions and good laboratory practices are to be followed for handling radioactive materials. Gloves, laboratory coat and safety glasses are must for the users for entering into the experiment. The work area, container and equipment should be labeled with danger sign. Also the work area should be shielded from all directions and fume hoods should be used for potentially volatile chemicals. Nuclear power plant workers should wear lead coat. Routinely they should survey the area to probe the leak of radioactive elements disseminated by chance if.