Radioactive pollution primarily impacts health, contributing to the rise of illnesses such as lung cancer, skin cancer and thyroid cancer, along with birth defects and cognitive disabilities. The type and severity of effects from radioactive pollution vary, depending on the quantity of pollution and amount of exposure. Long-term exposure might cause an increase in the number of genetic birth defects and mutations in a population, while acute exposure poses health risks, such as higher incidences of cancer within a population.
Radiation pollution comes from many types of exposure, including accidental contamination from industrial and environmental disasters. Some pollution comes from intentional sources, such as warfare and acts of terrorism. Regardless of source, radiation poses risks to people and animals and their surrounding environments.
Short-term consequences of radiation exposure include conditions called Acute Radiation Syndrome and Cutaneous Radiation Injury. Acute Radiation Syndrome produces systemic effects, while Cutaneous Radiation Injury targets the skin. Long-term exposure to radioactive pollution and contamination increases the likelihood of developing certain types of cancer. Long-term exposure also increases the potential for neonatal illnesses and abnormalities. While survivors of a radioactive disaster might experience short-term mental effects, long-term exposure puts people at higher risks for emotional and psychological distress and disorders.
Following radiation exposure, certain members of populations, such as pregnant women and children, should seek medical evaluation.