Unit 3: Ionising Radiation Pollution - Types and Half-Lives

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  • Ionising Radiation
    • Definition - energy or particles emitted from a source that when absorbed produce changed atoms or molecules
    • Radioactive Decay and Half-Lives (time taken for half of atoms to decay)
      • Short half-lives - release radiation quickly (dangerous) but pose no long-term dangers
      • Long half-lives - long-term danger but radiation levels are low
      • Most dangerous - half-lives of several decades as people exposed all their life
    • Types of Ionising Radiation
      • Alpha
        • Easily absorbed, travel short distances
        • Safe outside body - absorbed by clothing
        • Ingested emitters dangerous due to concentrated damage
      • Beta
        • Moderately absorbed, travels medium distance
        • Sources short distances away from body pose a risk
      • Gamma and X-Rays
        • Not easily absorbed, travel long distances
        • Lower danger but risk due to long distance travel
      • Neutrons
        • Moderately easily absorbed, travels medium distances
        • Very dangerous - pose risk after absorption


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