The FDifferent Uses of Radioactive Materials

The FDifferent Uses of Radioactive Materials

  • Radioactive materials are utilised in a spectrum of applications due to their characteristic half-life and radioactivity properties.

  • Radon gas, a naturally radioactive material, is detected and monitored to estimate the risk of lung cancer. High levels of radon are found in homes built on uranium-rich soil.

  • Radioactive tracers are used in medical diagnosis. A radioactive isotope can be introduced into the body, its radiation detected and used to create images of organs, or to track the movement of certain molecules.

  • In medicine, radiation therapy utilises radioactive substances to damage cancer cells and stop their growth. Iodine-131, for instance, is used to treat thyroid cancer.

  • Radioactive isotopes provide a source of heat. The Mars Rover, Curiosity, employs Plutonium-238 as a heat source.

  • Industries use radiation to test materials for structural integrity. This non-destructive testing helps to identify and correct defects, thereby preventing fatal breakdowns.

  • In agriculture, radioactive materials are used to kill pests, improve crop yield, and extend the shelf life of food products by killing bacteria and other pathogens.

  • Carbon dating, used in archaeology and geology, relies on the half-life of carbon-14 to estimate the age of fossils and other organic materials.

  • Smoke detectors use a tiny bit of the radioactive isotope Americium-241 to detect smoke particles.

  • Radioactive cobalt-60 is used in sterilising medical instruments, as its gamma radiation effectively kills bacteria and other microorganisms.

It’s essential to remember that despite these beneficial uses, the handling and disposal of radioactive materials must be carefully managed to avoid harmful radiation exposure.