You’re probably aware of the ill effects of radiation. Radiation can cause cancer by mutating your cells, and it can cause radiation burns. But radiation is also used in medicine to transmit a signal to your TV and communicate with one another. It’s what you use to see. Consider the misconceptions surrounding radiation and its applications; it’s essential to clear up some fear-mongering done by the media.
What Is Radiation?
Radiation is a transmission of energy. It has a source, and some radiations can pass through certain things. Some radiation has a lot of energy, while others carry little energy to the point that people don’t normally notice they’re basking in it.
The light from the sun is a form of radiation. It helps everyone to see and plants to grow so that they can give us oxygen and food. However, it can also cause skin cancer. That’s why applying sunblock is frequently advised to those who are heading out on a sunny day.
Background radiation is naturally occurring radiation found in the environment. There’s radiation in the soil, in bananas, and even in the air. It’s usually harmless. That’s one of the misconceptions around radiation — being exposed to any radiation can kill you immediately by disintegrating your bones to dust. Background radiation doesn’t do that. It’s typically at a low, acceptable level.
When you are exposed to a form of radiation that is up close and high in energy, that is the only time you should be worried. This can occur only during nuclear weapon explosions or if something goes wrong at a nuclear power plant.
Although you’ve probably seen pictures of Chernobyl and Fukushima, these are rare occurrences. The unfortunate thing is that even though they are rare, their impact is still felt today. However, arguably one of the larger sources of radiation close to your home could be caused by nuclear weapons testing conducted in the past.
Radiation at Home
Suppose you’ve got a smoke alarm that usually contains Americium-241, a radioactive element that emits alpha particles. Alpha particles are relatively lower in energy than other radioactive particles and rays, but they can still do damage to your cells. The good thing is that they’re short-range. That means that they don’t travel very far, and even if they do get out of that smoke alarm, it takes just a few centimeters for them to no longer have an effect.
Another source of radiation at home can be radon gas. It’s another emitter of alpha particles. The difference here is that if you inhale the colorless, odorless radon gas, it will release alpha particles inside your lungs. That’s why it’s a common cause of lung cancer. According to the EPA, radon gas is from uranium in rocks and soil. The uranium decays and releases the radon gas into the air. When radon gas is in the open air, it’s alright because it’s spread out and diluted by the other air components. The issue with radon is indoors.
Now you can’t decide to stop using smoke detectors or decide to stop breathing at home. You also can’t decide to not eat food and not go outside. It’s no way to live! That’s why it’s important to clear up the misconceptions about radiation. The important thing for you to remember is that so long as it’s a low-level form of radiation and that there are ways for you to detect when you’re in actual harm, you really shouldn’t worry about it. High levels of radiation in large quantities are the real issue here. Just make sure that you don’t get an X-ray for too long or too frequently.
A way for you to make sure that you’re not exposed to excessive amounts of radiation or invisible killers like radon gas is to have regular home inspections. You can usually get a team to come in and check all the nooks and crannies of your home for any issues, not just for radiation. That way, you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing that you got experts to look into your home.
Radiation is not all bad. Radiation may cause cancer, but it’s also helped numerous lives through medicine. It has allowed doctors to target medicine to certain organs, detect fractures, and direct radiation to actually kill cancer cells. Yes, there is harmful radiation, but that only happens every once in a while. That’s why they’re called accidents. Otherwise, overall, radiation has an extensive list of applications in your life.
Meta title: The Science Behind Background Radiation in Homes
meta desc: People tend to have misconceptions about radiation from movies or Facebook posts. There are arguments about the harm it brings to homes. But who is right?