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Types of radiation
Radio active materials are substances which give out nuclear radiation all the time.
Radioactivity involves a change in the structure of the radioactive atom and the
release of either: alpha, beta or gamma.
In radioactivity the unstable nucleus is changed into a new nucleus and one type of
radiation (alpha, beta or gamma.)
Radiation which happens all around us is background radiation. It only provides
small doses so there is no danger. Some sources of background radiation are
rocks, soil and cosmic rays from outer pace and the sun.
Structure and penetration
Each type of radiation has a different type of structure
Alpha radiation is a helium nucleus and has two neutrons and two protons.
Alpha has strong ionising power and is the weakest form of radiation not
being ale to pass through paper.
Beta radiation is a fast moving electron. It can pass through paper but can't
pass trough 35mm aluminium. It has reasonable ionising power.
Gamma radiation is very high frequency electromagnetic radiation and can
pass through a sheet of lead. It has poor ionising power.
Handling radioactive materials
When handling radioactive materials it is important to wear protective clothing, keep
a distance form the material, minimise exposure time and label radioactive materials
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Some radioactive waste can be reprocessed but often it has to be disposed of.
With lowlevel radioactive waste it is sealed and buried in land fill sites. Higher level
radioactive waste is mixed with sugar and bonded with glass in a steel cylinder under
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Beta can be used in paper thickness machines to measure the thickness of the
paper. The thicker the material, the more radiation is absorbed and the less
radiation reaches the detector. It then sends signals to the equipment that adjusts the
thickness of the material.
Uses of gamma radiation
Gamma radiation is used to treat cancer as it destroys cancerous cells. Because
high and calculated doses used at different angles it mean that only the cancerous
cells are destroyed.…read more