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Background Radiation - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Background Radiation. 3/4ths of all exposure to radiation comes from background radiation . Most of the remaining ¼ comes from medical irradiation such as X-rays. Radiation and Cells. Radiation is capable of removing electrons from cells, forming ions; hence the term ionizing radiation .

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Background radiation
Background Radiation

  • 3/4ths of all exposure to radiation comes from background radiation.

  • Most of the remaining ¼ comes from medical irradiation such as X-rays.

Radiation and cells
Radiation and Cells

  • Radiation is capable of removing electrons from cells, forming ions; hence the term ionizing radiation.

  • Molecules can also splinter into neutral fragments called free radicals. Free radicals can disrupt cellular processes.

Radiation and cells1
Radiation and Cells

  • Radiation often affects the fastest growing cells and tissues such as white blood cells and bone marrow.

  • Ionizing radiation call also disrupt DNA, causing mutations.

Nuclear equations
Nuclear Equations

In nuclear equations, we balance nucleons (protons and neutrons). The atomic number (number of protons) and the mass number (number of nucleons) are conserved during the reaction.

Nuclear equations1
Nuclear Equations

Alpha Decay

Nuclear equations2
Nuclear Equations

Beta Decay

Nuclear equations3
Nuclear Equations

Beta Decay

Nuclear equations5
Nuclear Equations

Positron Emission: A positron is a particle equal in mass to an electron but with opposite charge.

Nuclear equations6
Nuclear Equations

Electron Capture: A nucleus absorbs an electron from the inner shell.


Balancing Nuclear Equations

Write balanced nuclear equations for each of the following processes. In each case, indicate what new element is formed.

a. Plutonium-239 emits an alpha particle when it decays.

b. Protactinium-234 undergoes beta decay.

c. Carbon-11 emits a positron when it decays.

d. Carbon-11 undergoes electron capture.


Balancing Nuclear Equations continued

Exercise 4.1

Write balanced nuclear equations for each of the following processes. In each case, indicate what new element is formed.

a. Radium-226 decays by alpha emission.

b. Sodium-24 undergoes beta decay.

c. Gold-188 decays by positron emission.

d.Argon-37 undergoes electron capture.



More Nuclear Equations

In the upper atmosphere, a nitrogen-14 nucleus absorbs a neutron. A carbon-14 nucleus and another particle are formed. What is the other particle?

Half life

Half-life of a radioactive sample is the time required for ½ of the material to undergo radioactive decay.

Half life2

Fraction Remaining = 1/2n

Radioisotopic dating1
Radioisotopic Dating

Carbon-14 Dating: The half-life of carbon-14 is 5730 years. Carbon-14 is formed in the upper atmosphere by the bombardment of ordinary nitrogen atoms by neutrons from cosmic rays.

Radioisotopic dating2
Radioisotopic Dating

Tritium Dating: Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. It has a half-life of 12.26 years and can be used for dating objects up to 100 years old.

Artificial transmutation
Artificial Transmutation

Bombardment of stable nuclei with alpha particles, neutrons, or other sub-atomic particles cause new elements to form. This process is known as artificial transmutation.

Uses of radioisotopes
Uses of Radioisotopes

Tracers: Radioisotopes can be easily detected through their decay products. Therefore they can be used to trace their movement.

  • Detect leaks in underground pipes.

  • Determine frictional wear in piston rings.

  • Determine uptake of phosphorus and its distribution in plants.

Uses of radioisotopes1
Uses of Radioisotopes

Irradiation of Food: Radioisotopes can destroy microorganisms that cause food spoilage.

Nuclear medicine
Nuclear Medicine

  • Radiation Therapy: Nuclear radiation can be used to kill cancerous cells. Radiation is most lethal to fastest growing cells. Radiation is aimed at the cancerous tissue. Patients undergoing radiation therapy often experience nausea and vomiting, which are early signs of radiation sickness.

Nuclear medicine1
Nuclear Medicine

Diagnostic Uses of Radiation

Nuclear medicine2
Nuclear Medicine

  • Gamma Ray Imaging or Positron: Technetium-99m emits gamma radiation. It can be used to image the heart and other organs and tissues.

Nuclear medicine3
Nuclear Medicine

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET): A patient inhales or is injected with positron-emitting isotopes such as carbon-11 or oxygen-15. When positrons encounter electrons, they emit two gamma rays, which exit the body in opposite directions. PET scans can be used to image dynamic processes.

Penetrating power of radiation
Penetrating Power of Radiation

  • Alpha radiation is least penetrating and can penetrate the outer layer of skin. Alpha radiation is stopped by a sheet of paper.

  • Beta radiation can penetrate through a few cm of skin and tissue. Beta radiation is stopped by a sheet of aluminum foil.

  • Gamma radiation will pass right through a body. Gamma radiation requires several cm of lead to stop.

Penetrating power of radiation3
Penetrating Power of Radiation

Two means of protecting oneself from radiation are distance and shielding.

Distance: Move away from the source. The intensity of radiation decreases with increasing distance from the source.

Shielding: Lead is a commonly used shield for radiation.

Energy from the nucleus

When protons and neutrons combine to form a nucleus, a small amount of mass is converted into energy. This is known as binding energy.

Energy from the Nucleus

The building of the bomb
The Building of the Bomb amount of mass is converted into energy. This is known as

Nuclear Fission: Fission occurs when larger nuclei split into small nuclei.

Nuclear chain reaction

Fission of one nucleus produces neutrons that can cause the fission of other nuclei, thus setting off a chain reaction.

Nuclear Chain Reaction

Manhattan project
Manhattan Project fission of other nuclei, thus setting off a

The Manhattan Project was launched by President Roosevelt in 1939. It consisted of 4 separate research teams attempting to:

a. Sustain the nuclear fission reaction.

b. Enrich uranium.

c. Make fissionable plutonium-239.

d. Construct a fission atomic bomb.

Manhattan project1

Replicas of “Little Boy” (dropped on Hiroshima) and “Fat Man” (dropped on Nagasaki).

Manhattan Project

Manhattan project2

Mushroom cloud over Nagasaki from the detonation of “Fat Man,” August 9, 1945.

Manhattan Project

Radioactive fallout
Radioactive Fallout Man,” August 9, 1945.

Many radioactive isotopes are produced in a nuclear bomb blast. Some are particularly harmful to humans. Among these are strontium-90 and iodine-131.

Strontium-90: Half-life = 28.5 years, chemically similar to calcium. Obtained from dairy and vegetable products and accumulates in bone.

Iodine-131: Half-life = 8 days. Concentrates in the thyroid glands.

Nuclear power plants
Nuclear Power Plants Man,” August 9, 1945.

Civilian nuclear power plants use less enriched uranium (2.5-3.5% uranium-235 rather than 90% for weapons-grade).

The nuclear chain reaction is controlled for the slow release of heat energy. The heat is used to make steam, which turns a turbine to produce electricity.

The nuclear age
The Nuclear Age Man,” August 9, 1945.