The Toxicological Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident Essay

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The Toxicological Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident

Radiation has both beneficial and harmful effects. The most detrimental health effect on humans, is the incidence of cancer, which has been studied. Humans are exposed to radiation more than they realize. They are exposed medically with x-rays, just by being outside with cosmic rays, and by accidents such as at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Exposure to radiation is high and more studies are done which improve radiation protection.

The Chernobyl disaster is one such example in which the studies done had implications in the future of radiation protection. It was an unprecedented event. Large amounts of radiation were released into the area and affected the population
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Alpha particles are helium nuclei (2 protons and 2 neutrons) with a charge of +2, which is ejected from the atom’s nucleus. The energy from alpha decay is equal to the mass difference between the parent and the two products and is usually between 4 and 8 MeV. Each alpha particle has its own energy; there is no continuous spectrum of energy.

Beta particle decay is a neutron that is transformed to a proton and an electron with the electron ejected out of the atom. The maximum energy equals the mass difference between the parent and the product nuclei. Beta particles have a continuous spectrum of energy, in which the energy is shared between the beta particle and the antineutrino.

Positron emission is similar to beta particles. It is the transformation of a proton to a neutron and a positively charged electron; therefore, the atomic number decreases as opposed to increases, such as in beta particle decay. The maximum energy is the mass difference of the parent and product nuclide, minus the energy needed to create two electron masses (1.02 MeV). Positrons also have a continuous energy spectrum where the energy is shared between the positron and the neutrino. Another similar radiation is electron capture which competes with positrons but has the same result. An orbiting electron is captured and a proton and the electron are transformed into a neutron. If the 1.02 MeV is not available, positron decay is not kinetically possible and so only

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