Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Environmental Management

Effects of Radiations on the Environment

There are many forms of radiation, some forms of radiation are found in the natural environment and others are due to modern technology. Whether natural or man-made, radiation can be both harmful and beneficial to the environment.

The sun, for example can have positive and negative effects on plant and animal life. At low levels, radiation can be beneficial to the environment.

On the other hand ionized radiation such as x-rays, gamma rays, alpha and beta particles can be particularly harmful in excessive amounts.

Sources of Radiation

According to a World Health Organisation (2016) publication on Ionizing radiation, health effects and protective measures, People are exposed to natural radiation sources as well as human-made sources on a daily basis.

Natural radiation comes from many sources including more than 60 naturally-occurring radioactive materials found in soil, water and air.

Radon, a naturally-occurring gas, emanates from rock and soil and is the main source of natural radiation. Every day, people inhale and ingest radionuclides from air, food and water.

People are also exposed to natural radiation from cosmic rays, particularly at high altitude. On average, 80% of the annual dose of background radiation that a person receives is due to naturally occurring terrestrial and cosmic radiation sources.

Background radiation levels vary geographically due to geological differences. Exposure in certain areas can be more than 200 times higher than the global average.

Human exposure to radiation also comes from human-made sources ranging from nuclear power generation to medical uses of radiation for diagnosis or treatment.

Today, the most common human-made sources of ionizing radiation are medical devices, including X-ray machines.

Ionizing Radiations

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, ionizing radiations are radioactive materials that decay spontaneously producing ionizing radiation, which has sufficient energy to strip away electrons from atoms (creating two charged ions) or to break some chemical bonds.

Any living tissue in the human body can be damaged by ionizing radiation. The body attempts to repair the cellular damage, but sometimes the damage is of a nature that cannot be repaired or it is too severe or widespread to be repaired.

Also mistakes made in the natural repair process at the cellular level can lead to cancerous cells. The most common forms of ionizing radiation are alpha and beta particles, and gamma and X-rays.

Read Also : Effects of Technological Advancement on Environment

Forms of Ionizing Radiation

The Washington Department of Health listed ionizing radiation to include:

Alpha particles: Helium nuclei consisting of two protons and two neutrons are emitted from radioactive elements such as uranium, plutonium, and radium. It cannot penetrate the skin, so only are dangerous if inhaled or swallowed and radiation is emitted inside the body.


Beta particles: fast-moving electrons. They are emitted by many radioactive elements, such as iodine 131 and cesium 137. It is more penetrating than alpha particles, but can be easily shielded. All beta emitters, depending on the amount present, can pose a hazard if inhaled, ingested or absorbed into the body. In addition, energetic beta emitters are capable of presenting an external radiation hazard, especially to the skin.

Gammarays: high-energy beams (similar to X-rays)

They are emitted by many radioactive elements, such as uranium, iodine 131, and cesium 137.

They are very penetrating It damages or kills cells

In summary, radiation is often beneficial to animals and plant growth especially the non- ionizing radiation. It is necessary for many plants to receive some form of non-ionizing radiation.

Radiation that produces light in order for photosynthesis to occur and the early morning sun radiation to animals are positive effects that radiation has on plant and animal lives. However, the ionizing radiation has a very serious negative effect on the environment and the lives of plants and animals.

Read Also : Causes of Regular Abortion on Pregnant Goats and Control Measures


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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