The qualities that make materials radioactive give them the potential to be incredibly useful sources of energy, but that same radioactivity can be a lethal threat to humans and other living things. Radioactive materials are naturally unstable, and they will tend to release energy while decaying into a more stable isotope. The particles released by this process can be useful when harnessed properly.Continue Reading
The instability of radioactive materials makes them a perfect fuel for a nuclear chain reaction. When a neutron strikes one of these unstable atoms, it splits, forming two more stable atoms and expelling spare neutrons and a large amount of energy. If enough unstable atoms are packed together, these spare neutrons may strike other atoms, creating a fission reaction. The amount of energy released by this process is much greater than that released by any other fuel, with a single inch-long pellet of uranium containing the same amount of energy found in 149 gallons of oil.
The particles and energy released during nuclear fission and natural radioactive decay include alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays. These radioactive byproducts can damage the DNA inside living cells, causing them to malfunction or die. Exposure to intense radiation can be fatal in a matter of hours, and even a minor exposure can greatly increase the chance of developing cancer or genetic disorders later in life.Learn more about Pollution
Acid rain can be reduced through the use of alternative sources of energy, decreasing energy consumption and using alternative forms of transport. Acid rain results from the deposition of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere, which occurs when fossil fuels are burned.Full Answer >
Friction is the reason humans are able to control where they move or why objects can stay in one place, but it is also the reason we must use force and lose energy to move objects and why many materials wear out and break. The reality of friction allows machines to work, humans to walk and cars to drive. However, friction also means that energy needs to constantly be exerted to move any object.Full Answer >
Types of soil pollution include agricultural soil pollution, soil pollution by industrial discharges and solid wastes, and pollution due to urban activities.Soil is sometimes polluted with substances including misplaced chemicals at higher concentrations that may have significant impact on humans and other living organisms.Full Answer >
Water pollution occurs when water is contaminated with chemicals and foreign substances that are harmful to humans, plants and animals. Water pollutants include chemical contamination from waste sites, chemical wastes from industrial discharges, heavy metals such as mercury and lead, sewage waste, food processing waste, fertilizers and pesticides.Full Answer >