Radioactive Contamination - Please explain how it works.

anirut

Legend
Hi all,

I'd like to understand how radiation-contaminated food/clothing/stuff/etc. maintains that high dose of radiation they have gone through.

For instance, let's assume canned milk that has been radiation-contaminated from a nuclear accident. How does that the canned milk stores/maintain the radiation that it has been exposed to?

Or what has the radiation done to the milk such that it becomes dangerous. Or (how) has it turned into radioactive milk?

I use the term canned milk to ensure that the milk itself is not exposed to radioactive dust; that the milk is close-contained and not directly exposed to the environment.

Please explain.

Thanks all.

PS: I'm not asking about how it affects us once it gets into our bodies. That's understood. I'm interested in how nuclear-accident radiation changes the safety of the canned milk.

Thanks again.
 
Last edited:

Bartelby

Talk Tennis Guru
Don't understand the question: the milk is contaminated before it is canned unless the can itself is not protective against contamination.
 
When a nuclear accident happens there is often nuclear fallout, which is particles ( atoms that emit radiation, mostly gamma rays ) that are thrown into the air from the accident and "fallout" to the ground. If there are any manufacturing plants, whether it be milk or clothing production, in the zone of nuclear fallout..the particles could get on and in the products. If the particles do get into canned milk, for instance, the radioactive particles will still continue to emit radiation in the milk..or in your body if you ingest it. If the milk is exposed to just radiation then it will be ok to consume. However if particles get into the milk, that's what you have to be concerned about, cause then these particles will emit radiation inside you.
 

anirut

Legend
So, what we're actually concerned about are the "radioactive particles" and not the radiation itself. Is that right?

If I understand correctly, then, a sealed can of milk, sitting ready to ship, manufactured prior to a nuclear mishap, and not exposed to radioactive particles, should be "rather safe" to consume. Is that correct?

And the gamma radiation, however high that may be, should not affect the milk inside the sealed container. Is that right?

Please help clarify the doubt. Thanks.
 

kchau

Semi-Pro
So, what we're actually concerned about are the "radioactive particles" and not the radiation itself. Is that right?

If I understand correctly, then, a sealed can of milk, sitting ready to ship, manufactured prior to a nuclear mishap, and not exposed to radioactive particles, should be "rather safe" to consume. Is that correct?

And the gamma radiation, however high that may be, should not affect the milk inside the sealed container. Is that right?

Please help clarify the doubt. Thanks.
it depends on the intensity of the radiation that the milk is exposed to.

certain types of radiation can penetrate some metals. aluminum foil, and thin, lightweight metals dont do much. dense metals like lead need to be a certain thickness depending on the intensity of the radiation.

there are other types of emissions, alpha, beta, gamma, lambda... they all depend on what kind of particle is being emitted; electron, proton, neutron, positron.. etc.

radiation is a slippery slope effect, depending on how much radiation something is exposed to, radiation may be persistent even if the original causing particle is no longer present.

this is because when a particle hits a normally non radioactive isotope of another atom, this causes the the atom to emit something of its own, and this cascading effect goes on and on until it stabilizes itself.

and this is why it is bad when radiation hits your body from the inside, it can cause element changes at the atomic level and these can have drastic effects on cell make up, especially if it hits the atoms of your dna.
 

ProgressoR

Hall of Fame
sounds like OP has got himself some stock that got exposed to radiation and is wondering if he can sell it.....


business never stops.
 
The radioactive particles emit radiation (which is the dangerous part). As long as you are not near the radioactive particles, you'll be ok. The problem is that these particles can get into your food during processing and then the particles are brought to you, and if you eat it..the particles will remain inside you and continue to emit radiation and damage cells and dna.
A sealed container should be safe if no particles make their way inside. Gamma rays do have effects on matter and food, but it does not irradiate them. When people talk about contamination of foods from radiation they are talking about particles getting into food.
Food that is canned before exposure to radioactive particles should be safe.
 

anirut

Legend
Thanks to Can't think of a name.

And, as for kchau:

it depends on the intensity of the radiation that the milk is exposed to.

certain types of radiation can penetrate some metals. aluminum foil, and thin, lightweight metals dont do much. dense metals like lead need to be a certain thickness depending on the intensity of the radiation.

there are other types of emissions, alpha, beta, gamma, lambda... they all depend on what kind of particle is being emitted; electron, proton, neutron, positron.. etc.

radiation is a slippery slope effect, depending on how much radiation something is exposed to, radiation may be persistent even if the original causing particle is no longer present.

this is because when a particle hits a normally non radioactive isotope of another atom, this causes the the atom to emit something of its own, and this cascading effect goes on and on until it stabilizes itself.

and this is why it is bad when radiation hits your body from the inside, it can cause element changes at the atomic level and these can have drastic effects on cell make up, especially if it hits the atoms of your dna.
Do you mean that stable isotopes in a product (in this case milk in a sealed container) can turn into unstable and radioactive isotope due to radioactive contamination (or high radiation exposure)?

And, BTW, this is the first time I'm hearing of lambda radiation! :lol:
 

kchau

Semi-Pro
Thanks to Can't think of a name.

And, as for kchau:



Do you mean that stable isotopes in a product (in this case milk in a sealed container) can turn into unstable and radioactive isotope due to radioactive contamination (or high radiation exposure)?

And, BTW, this is the first time I'm hearing of lambda radiation! :lol:
not sure, but thats not what i meant. but i wouldnt drink or touch anything thats been exposed to radiation without knowing how much and what kind

oops. cut me some slack its late.

im no radiochemist, but i know to stay away from radiation outside of a lab.
 
yeah i agree with kchau.. I wouldn't eat anything exposed to the radiation at anytime..because like kchau said..you don't know how much and for how long the food was exposed. I'm not really sure what radiation would do to the milk..but unless there are unstable elements already in the milk, then the milk itself wont become radioactive. Gamma radiation might break the chemicals bonds in the molecules but i dont think any nuclear reactions will occur.
In conclusion..if it were me.. I wouldn't eat or drink foods exposed unless it went through a radiation detector and was cleared of any radioactivity
 

anirut

Legend
Thanks, guys.

No, no, no, no ... I'm ain't eating anything.

I just want to understand how radioactive contamination works. I'll be interpreting this subject in a seminar by US experts for Thai audience.

Just wanna make sure I don't inadvertently screw up and make a fool of myself. :D

More info welcome!
 
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