People and Environment Notes (UGC NET Paper 1 Free Study Material)

Radioactive Pollution


It is the property of certain elements (radium, thorium, uranium etc.) to spontaneously emit protons (alpha particles), electrons (beta particles) and gamma rays (electromagnetic waves of very short wave length ) by disintegration of their atomic nuclei. The elements that give radiation are called radioactive elements.

Radioactive pollution is a special form of physical pollution of air, water and soil with radioactive materials.

Sources of radioactive pollution

1. Natural Sources

2. Man made Sources (Anthropogenic Sources)

1. Natural Sources

This includes cosmic rays that reach the surface of earth form space and terrestrial radiations form radioactive elements present in the earth’s crust.

Many radioactive elements such as radium 224, uranium 235, uranium 238, thorium 232, radon 222, potassium 40 and carbon 14 occur in rocks, soil and water.

2. Man-made radiations

Man has been using radiation technology for health care and energy demands. Since the advent of X-ray technology, these are routinely used for the examination of teeth, bones, lungs and other organs. Different parts of the body can pick up different doses caused from X-rays. Much higher exposure occurs in subjects who use Plutonium powered pacemakers. Radiologists are likely o suffer high risks of aplastic anemia, leukemia and certain types of cancer. The major present day man made sources include:

Nuclear weapons/Nuclear fall out

The first atomic bomb was exploded in Nagasaki and the second in Hiroshima in Japan in 1945. This caused large scale destruction  of human , animal and plant life.  Explosion of nuclear device in the atmosphere releases an intense shower of many kinds of radiations, most of which fall back in the immediate vicinity of the blast within hours. Within 80 to 160 hour of the blast, alpha and beta emitters can contaminate air, water and food supplies. Production of nuclear weapons involves the tests of nuclear arms. These tests produce large amount of radioactive elements into the environment and make other materials also radioactive. They include strontium 90, cesium 137, iodine 131 and some others. Iodine 131 damages white blood corpuscles, bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes, skin cancer, sterility and defective eye sight and may cause lung tumours. Strontium 90 accumulates in the bones and may cause bone cancer and tissue degeneration in most animals and man.

Atomic Reactors and Nuclear Fuels

The operation of a nuclear power plant releases large amounts of energy. This nuclear energy is used large turbine, which produce electricity. Both the fuel elements and coolants contribute to radiation pollution.  Wastes from atomic reactors also contain radioactive materials.The biggest problem is the disposal of these radioactive wastes. It these wastes are not properly disposed of, can harm the living organisms wherever they are dumped.

Radiation Pollution from Electric Field

Electrical gadgets and power transmission lines generate electric fields causing environmental radiation hazards. The modern man is continuously exposed to such low frequency electric fields which are enough harmful. Migratory birds can get misguides by artificial magnetic and radio waves when sunlight is blocked out completely.

Exploitation of Natural Resources

Minerals Area of Exploitation
1.      Asbestos Jharkhand (Singhbum), Andhra Pradesh (Cudappa), Rajasthan (Bhilwara).
2.      Bauxite Madhya Pradesh (Jabalpur, Katni), Kharkhand (Lohar-daga, Gumla), Chattisgarh (Blaspur, Durg), Maharashtra (Ratnagiri, Udaigiri), Andhra Pradesh (Vishakhapatnamm, east and west Godavari district), Orissa (Kalahandi, Koraput).
3.      Coal West Bengal (Ranigani), Burdwan, Jharkhand (Jharia, Giridih), Orissa (Rampur, Hindgeer), Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh (Rewa, Pench valley), Maharashtra(Nagpur, Vardha valley), Assam (Garo hills, Baljong), Andhra Pradesh (Kathguddam), Arunachal Pradesh (Namehik river valley).
4.      Copper Jharkhand (Singhbhum), Madhya Pradesh (Balaghat),Rajasthan (Khetri), Andhra Pradesh (Khammam), Karnataka (Chitradurg, Hasan).
5.      Diamond Madhya Pradesh (Panna), Chattisgarh (Bastar – Deobhog), Andhra Pradesh (Ramakolla in Kurnool and Begumpallay).
6.      Gold Karnataka (Kolar,Hutti, Raichur), Andhra Pradesh (Ramgiri).
7.      Iron ore Andhra Pradesh (Haemetite – Khambhameto, Kabali,Narad, Magnetitie-Nellore, Chittur, Karimnagar, Assam (Khasi Hills), Jharkand (Singhbhum, Naomundi, Kotamadi), Himachal Pradesh (Mandi), Kerala (Trichur), Madhya Pradesh (Narsinghpur , Jabalpur), Tamil Nadu (Salem, Trichurapalli, Malai hills), Karnataka (Bababudan hills, Chikmangloor, Hospet), Orissa (Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Cuttack, Koraput).
8.      Lead Rajasthan (Zawar, Mewar, Dungarpur Mando), Andhra Pradesh (CHityala, Chilema), Jharkhand (Hazari bagh, Manbhum), CHattisgarh (Durg), Orissa (Sargipalli, Dumohalli).
9.      Manganese Andhra Pradesh (Kadur, Garibali), Jharkhand (Chaibasa, Jamada, Noamund), Goa, Gujra (Baroda , Panch Mahal), Madhya Pradesh (Balaghat , Chindwara), Maharashtra (Nagpur, Bhandara, Ratnagiri), Rajasthan (Banswara, Udaipur).
10.   Mica Bihar (Gaya, Manghar, Bhagalpur), Jharkhand (Hazaribagh, Giridih, Kodarma) Andhra Pradesh (Guntur, Vishakhapatnam, Kurnool), Rajasthan (Bhilwara, Udaipur, Jaipur, Alwar, Tonk).
11.   Nickel Orissa (Cuttack, Keonijhar, Mayurbhanj), Jharkand, Manipur, Nagaland,Karnataka,Rajasthan, Maharashtra.
12.   Oil Assam and Meghalaya (Digboi, Natural Gas Naharkatia, Surma Valey), Gujrat (Cambay, Ankleshwar), Mumbai, high, Krishna-Godavari area, Rajasthan (Jaisalmaer, Bikaner).
13.   Silver Rajasthan (Zawar), Andhra Pradesh (Chitra-durg), Karnataka (Kolar).
14.   Thorium Kerela (Quilon)
15.   Uranium Jharkhand (Jadugoda), Rajasthan (Ajmer), Andhra Pradesh (Nellore Nalgonda, Takidappa), Karnataka (Gulbarga).
16.   Zinc Rajasthan (Zawar, Sawai Madhopur, Alwar, Banswara, Dungarpur), Orissa, Andhra Pradesh

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