Five Sources of Radiation You Didn’t Know

Most of the time we associate radiation with gadgets, cancer medication and nuclear power plants. In fiction, radiation sources come in form of radioactive spiders, gamma bombs and cosmic rays blasting at comic characters before they get superpowers. 

In reality, we’re more exposed to radiation than we think. Radiation is basically everywhere. Here’s a rundown of radiation sources that you may not know about:

1. Granite countertops

A popular material in constructing kitchens, granite has traces of natural radioactivity. Its radioactive minerals can decay into radon, a colourless gas that can cause lung cancer. 

But don’t worry, you don’t need to replace that countertop because their radiation emission levels are not that high. Experts say if the radon concentration level is high inside your home, you should probably focus on improving your ventilation. You could do that by opening windows and using fans and vents.

2. Glow-in-the-dark clocks

Glow-in-the-dark clocks are definitely safe in the present time but going back to the early 1900s, radioactive materials were used to make luminous paint. 

In 1898, Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium, a chemical element that fascinated people. Many have mistaken the energy from radioactivity to be helpful to their health. They added radium to various products—toothpaste, cosmetics, and even distilled water. This misinformation of course made a lot of people sick, including the Radium Girls. 

The Radium Girls were factory women that painted watch dials with the luminous paint created with radium. They were told that the material was harmless and they could point their brushes on their lips to make a fine tip. After ingesting lots of radium, they contracted radiation poisoning. 

These days, you don’t need radium to produce glow-in-the-dark paint so it’s completely safe!

3. Tobacco

Everyone knows about the dangers of smoking but few people know that tobacco contains radioactive materials. Aside from toxic chemicals, some tobacco products contain trace amounts of radionuclides from the fertilisers and naturally occurring radon from the soil. Over time, radiation can damage the lungs of the smoker, contributing to lung cancer.

4. Bananas

Bananas are tasty sources not only of potassium but radiation too! 2.5 bananas is equal to one airport security scan and 50 bananas is equal to 1 dental X-ray. But before you go bananas about it, the amount of radiation from potassium-40 isotopes is extremely low and harmless. So don’t fret and enjoy that smoothie!

5. Plane Travel

Did you know that flight attendants and pilots are classified as radiation workers? As the plane goes higher, anyone inside the plane gets exposed to more radiation, particularly cosmic radiation. That’s why it’s recommended for airline workers to have frequent staff rotations. 

Radiation Monitoring in Different Industries

Radiation is everywhere but it doesn’t mean that danger is, too! Background radiation is in low doses but for radiation workers, monitoring occupational exposure is part of their safety measures.  

SensaWeb’s automated reporting helps easily detect and interdict radioactive materials. This makes it easy for any organisation that needs to monitor and report on their radiation and X-ray regulatory requirements. 

For real-time radiation monitoring needs, connect with the SensaWeb team here or our email address: info@sensaweb.com.au. You can also call us at +61 415 409 467.

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