GCSE Physics Unit 2 Revision (16)

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Background radiation

  • Background radiation comes from many sources
  • The radiation we receive comes from:
  • 1. radioactivity of naturally occurring unstable isotopes which are all around us - in the air, in food, in building materials, and in the rocks under our feet.
  • 2. Radiation from space, which is known as cosmic rays. These mostly come from the sun.
  • 3. Radiation due to human activity, e.g. fallout from nuclear explosions, or dumped nuclear waste. This represents a tiny proportion of the total background radiation.
  • The level of background radiation changes depending on where you are
  • At high altitudes (like in a plane) the background radiation increases because of more exposure to cosmic rays. This means that commercial pilots have an increased risk of getting some types of cancer.
  • Underground in mines, e.t.c. it increases because of…


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