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Radioisotopes: Good or Bad?

Times nowadays aren’t clear. Certain things cause good effects while others cause bad. Sometimes, there are no clear black and white borders. Many times, there are just grey. Who can say what we see today is 100% wrong or perhaps 100% right? Who can say this must never be done because the bad outweigh the good? Who has the right to say which weighs heavier and which must we follow?

Radioisotopes are one of many that have several good and bad effects. To start of, radioisotopes are in plain words, radioactive isotopes. An unstable nucleus changes constantly because of an imbalance of energy within the nucleus. Once a nucleus loses a neutron, energy is released. Thus, the atom now becomes radioactive. Isotopes are atoms of the same element (counted by the number of protons) but have a different number of neutrons. Since we know like charges repel, when there are less neutrons to help keep the atom stable, the protons tend to repel each other. The nucleus however is held together by a thing called the binding energy. When a nucleus is stable, the binding energy is sufficient to hold the protons and neutrons together. However, with atoms that are unstable, the nucleus tends to change, giving off radiation as is said to be radioactive. Radioisotopes release radiation. Note, not all isotopes are radioisotopes.

Radioisotopes are very useful. They can be used for smoke detectors to detect fire in its early stage. It can be also used to substitute its stable form of the same element to trace biological processes of plants. It can also be used to treat food to make it safer to eat while lasting longer. Since they are radioactive, it can kill disease-causing microorganisms or those that cause the food to spoil. The two biggest benefits though of using radioisotopes are for archaeological dating and medicine. With the use of radioisotopes, by comparing the ratio of the mass of carbon-14 to carbon-12, the death of an organism can be dated. For medicine, bone imaging requires the use of radioisotopes. After an hour wait since the injection of 99Tcm which is a gamma ray producer, the area that is undergoing higher bone growth than normal will show up with a stronger image thus the fracture may be seen.

Since these are radioactive, once a contamination occurs, many things can go wrong. Radioisotopes possess the property of spontaneous transformation where an atom can change into a whole different element while emitting radiation in the process. The dangers to people and the environment are dependent on the radioactive contaminant, how much it has contaminated and how far has been contaminated. Low levels aren’t much harmful but in high levels, can be deadly. Radiation can cause abnormality to people and can even cause them to die after some time. One concrete sickness can be cancer, which is very hard to treat. Once a place has also been hit by a large dose of radiation, the land can become infertile and not bare fruit for quite some time just as what happened to the two cities USA has bombed during World War 2.

 

Isotopes still have the same number of protons and electrons. Thus, the chemical properties of isotopes are still the same. The physical properties, however, still differ. Because isotopes differ in mass, there are difference in the rate of diffusion of the different gaseous isotopes of an element through a porous membrane and to different levels of evaporation in liquid elements.

Now people may think if there are so much risks, why still use radioisotopes? I feel like most of the bad effects are caused plainly because of mistakes of bad containment. In other words, all these bad effects can be avoided if careful. The good effects are still much so useful. Thus, I believe isotopes are beneficial and should be in use.

All the background information has been mentioned. Opinions have now been set and presented. What would you choose?

Sources:

http://www.studyzones.com/uploadzone/Homework/31564×1803/use-of-radioisotopes—benefits-and-problems

http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/nuclear/smoke.html

http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/nuclear/agriculture.html

http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/nuclear/food.html

http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/nuclear/medical.html

http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/nuclear/uses.html

http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/nuclear/dating.html

http://www.weitzlux.com/radiation/contamination_4175.html

http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/I/isotope.html

 

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2 Responses to “Radioisotopes: Good or Bad?”

  1. Clearly showed the advantages and disadvantages of the radioisotopes and the ideas are explained and easily understood.

  2. The blog looked well researched. Good job! You were able to define it well and give the good and bad side of radioisotopes.


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