Radioactive contamination or radiological contamination can be defined as the deposition of as well as the presence of harmful radioactive elements on the surfaces of liquids, solids, and gases, even the human body.
Sources of radiological pollution:
There are both human-made and natural causes of radioactive contamination. Let us try to understand those causes.
Radioactive contamination may take place when radioactive gases, particles, or liquids are released in the environment. For instance, if a specific radionuclide used for making nuclear medicine is accidentally spilled, people can unknowingly spread the material as they wander about without even knowing it.
Another reason behind radiological pollution includes processes like nuclear fuel reprocessing that releases radioactive xenon.
Nuclear fallout is the distribution of radioactive contamination by the total number of nuclear explosions that took place in the atmosphere between the 1950s and the 1980s. The exact number is 520.
Naturally occurring radioactive pollution
A wide range of radionuclides naturally occurs in the environment. Elements such as thorium and uranium, as well as their decay products, exist in soil and rocks. Potassium-40, another primordial nuclide, is present even in the body of human beings. Other nuclides such as carbon-14, which can be found in all living things, are incessantly produced by cosmic rays. Though these are minor levels of radioactivity and therefore, pose little danger. However, they contribute to confusing measurement.
NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials) are concentrated or brought to the earth’s surface by human activities such as mining, extraction of gas and coal.
Harmful outcomes of radioactive contamination
- Genetic mutations- Radiation has severe effects on genetics. It damages DNA strands and results in a genetic breakup. Infertility, disfigured births, and blindness in infants are depressing outcomes.
- Soil infertility- Radioactive materials even pollute the soil when released in the environment. Radioactive elements react with the nutrients present in the soil, thus leaving the soil not just infertile but highly toxic. Crops harvested in such toxic soil spread diseases in both animals and humans.
- Diseases- The most common and most dangerous disease related to radiation is cancer. Other such disorders are anemia, hemorrhage, leukemia, premature aging, premature deaths, and cardiovascular complications. Leukemia, for example, is the result of radiation in one’s bone marrow.
- Burns- Radiation also gives burns, sores, and red lesions in our skin, sometimes leading to skin cancer.
- Cell destruction- Alteration of animal and human cells is another negative impact of radioactive contamination. The human body is unique as it is made up of millions of cells and each of these cells has its distinctive purpose. Radiation distorts these cells, and this explains the permanent failure of several organ systems and organs. So, with excessive pollution around us, deaths and lifelong illness are inevitable.
Solutions of radioactive pollution:
- Proper disposal of radioactive waste- We cannot dispose of dangerous waste like regular waste. It can be either buried or incinerated. Since there are risks of leakage, storage of this waste should take place in concrete, heavy containers. Diluting the radiation is another available option.
- Banning nuclear tests- There is no denying that nuclear power can be extremely destructive. Though the nuclear tests take place in deserts, studies prove that they escape from one ecosystem and reach another, affecting many lives.
- Proper labeling- Containers having radioactive substances need to be clearly labeled so that nobody touches it without protective gear. Labeling is essential as a simple touch of any radioactive material, radiation enters the body.
- Proper storage- Containers containing radioactive materials must be stored properly. To begin with, such materials need to be kept in radiation-proof containers. This will ensure no leakage or seeping during handling. So, proper storage can reduce the number of cases of sudden leakage.
- Alternative sources of energy- Considering its threats and damages to the environment, it is better to discontinue the usage of nuclear power and depend on alternative sources of energy. Energy sources such as wind power, hydro-electric power, and solar energy are environment friendly.
- Reusing- Since it is difficult to dispose or store radioactive waste, recycling and using it for other purposes is a smart option.
Nuclear tests need to stop for the greater good of all living organisms of the earth.
Celebrate Biodiversity: Top Reasons to Commemorate the World Environment Day
What is biodiversity? And what does World Environment Day have to do with the need to celebrate biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the “foundation of ecosystem services to which human wellbeing is intimately linked.”
Humankind is part of the dynamic, complex, and varied multi-layered ecosystem. Each layer in the bio network has a singular role to fulfill. And all the layers work in harmony with one another. Consequently, if a layer gets removed, both sides of this layer collapse.
And, because people are at the top of the ecological model or pyramid, we have the biggest impact on all the layers underneath us. Therefore, we have the biggest responsibility to ensure that the ecosystems below us function optimally and remain in ecological balance or harmony. We maybe don’t see it, but when the natural order goes out of sync, we suffer as well as the other parts of the natural world.
A modern example is an increase in the number and intensity of tropical storms, cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes, caused by global warming. Succinctly stated, as the earth’s temperature heats up, the warmer oceans facilitate the development of severe storms with higher winds speeds that are capable of causing major damage as they reach areas where people live. As an aside, these weather systems are similar in that they are severe weather events that cause untold destruction when they move over urban settlement areas. Their fundamental difference is where they form.
For example, a hurricane forms over the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific oceans. A typhoon forms over the Northwest Pacific. And, cyclones occur in the Indian and South Pacific oceans.
According to weather.com, on 20 May 2020, ”the tropical cyclone Amphan made landfall with major storm surges, high winds, and flooding rainfall in India and Bangladesh.” Its original peak intensity was a category 5 storm, but it weakened to a category 2 as it moved over West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh.
Reasons to Celebrate Biodiversity
We have established the quintessential nature of the natural order and the need for biodiversity within the natural world, let’s now move onto reasons why we should celebrate our biodiversity.
We must remember
The most straightforward reason to commemorate the world’s biodiversity is that if we remind ourselves of the importance to take care of the environment. This sounds like a trite statement. However, as described above, it is imperative to secure a living environment for future generations.
The key to preventing pandemics
The website, Activesustainability.com notes that over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihood, while another 1.6 billion people rely on the world’s forests for their living. And, there is evidence to suggest that the “loss of biodiversity could increase the number of cases of zoonoses” like Ebola, COVID-19, and SARS and MERS. In fact, 70% of new communicable diseases have originated from viruses like zoonoses.
Since more than one animal species are often involved in the spread of infection, the loss of “biodiversity and extinction of many of those species increases the chances of the pathogens reaching human beings.”
In other words, if we protect the natural kingdom and natural order of species, the risk of infectious diseases from zoonoses will reduce substantially.
In summary, it is vital to celebrate our biodiversity and commemorate world environment day on 5 June 2020 as it reminds us how critical it is to take care of the world’s ecosystems so that they remain in harmony and balance. Otherwise, the world’s flora and fauna, including humankind, will not survive.
King Stringy And Other Tallest Trees Inhabiting The Planet Earth
Are you one of those nature lovers who love to get lost in deep woods? Does the very thought of wandering in forests, the smallness of being around giant trees like King Stringy whose sheltering canopy, age-old bark, and earthly scent evoke a deep sense of fulfillment within you? If yes, then check our list of the most towering trees that you have to visit at least once in your life.
The mightiest trees of the earth to make us realize how small we are:
For centuries, mankind has witnessed a strange divinity in trees. In several cultures, people worship trees. The key reason behind this is that they are a major life source for us. But, the fact that they are also extremely beautiful adds to our fascination regarding trees. Isn’t it amazing that some of them grow as tall as a 20-story or a 30-story building? No, there is no exaggeration in the above statement. There are such giant trees in the world whose greatness will leave you mesmerized.
Here is a list of the tallest trees for tree lovers like you:
Hyperion in Redwood National Park
The world’s tallest tree is a redwood, namely Hyperion, situate in Redwood National Park of California. The height of Hyperion is 380 feet, thus appropriately named.
This tree is 600 years old and its exact location is kept as a secret to reduce threats of vandalism.
King Stringy in Tasmania
Lovingly named King Stringy, this is a stringy-bark tree standing at an awe-inspiring height of 282 feet. It is the tallest member of the Eucalyptus oblique family.
It has derived this unique name because of its stringy and flaky bark that peels off easily. Nevertheless, the bark and the wood of King Stringy are extremely sturdy and the flowers are loved haven by bees. Having survived several natural threats, the pretty kingly tree is one of the toughest trees.
Nehemiah Loggorale Meena in Tasmania
Believe us when you say that Neeminah Loggorale Meena is as tall as its long name. Standing with pride in the deep forests of Tasmania, this blue gem tree is one of a kind.
The meaning of Neeminah Loggorale Meena is ‘mother and daughter’ in the Aboriginal language. It stands completely isolated in an area and is 298 feet tall. The Tasmanian Forestry Law clearly states that any tree exceeding the height of 278 feet cannot be cut down, ensuring the safety of such huge trees.
Alpine Ash in Tasmania
The Florentine Valley of Tasmania is famous for its untouched, ancient forests. There are rows of tall Eucalyptus delegatensis trees. The tallest one in the group has reached 288 feet from the ground.
Deforestation is a serious threat to the Florentine Valley, but the conservation groups are trying their best to preserve forests.
White Knight, Evercreech Forest Reserve
Though the White Knight has not saved any damsel in distress, its height alone is heroic. Standing at an inspiring height of 299 feet, it is one of the pride of Tasmanian forests. Dendrophiles from all around the globe visit the White Knight.
So, one trip to Tasmania will give you the opportunity of looking at some of the largest trees with your own eyes.
Raven’s Tower in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
If you visit the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, you can spot the Raven’s Tower. The height of this tree is 317 and the park was established with the intention of protecting the lofty trees of the area.
Centurion in Arve Valley
You’ll find the second tallest tree of the world on the small island of Tasmania in Australia. This giant tree, Centurion is 330 feet tall and has got its name from Roman centurions.
There was a devastating bushfire in southern Tasmania in February 2019, and Centurion has been luckily saved.
Giant Sequoia in Sequoia National Forest
The Giant Sequoias are the world’s biggest trees. Once you step into a sequoia forest, you’ll never feel like leaving the place.
The name of the tallest Giant Sequoia tree is General Sherman tree. Situated in the Sequoia National Park in California’s Tulare County, it has a height of 275 feet.
Other than King Stringy, Hyperion and Centurion, there are some other tallest trees such as Menara, Doerner Fir, and Yellow Meranti.
An Apple Tree: Caring For An Apple Tree And Benefits Of Eating Apples
An apple tree is among the most popular trees in the world because of its nutritious fruit. Spring flowers, delicious fruits, and summer shade are only a few of the wonderful advantages of planting an apple tree.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Usually consumed raw, people also use apples in several recipes, drinks, and juices. They are available in various sizes and colors.
Some basic facts about an apple tree:
- Etymology- The word ‘apple’ has a Proto-Germanic origin.
- Production- China is the largest producer of apple in the world. Other suppliers of delicious apples include Poland, the United States, Iran, Italy, Turkey, and India.
How to care for an apple tree?
Through proper control of diseases and insects, pruning, and fertilizing, you can enjoy the fruit and beauty of an apple tree for years. If you have an apple tree or plan to plant one, here are some facts that you need to know:
- Location and time- Early spring or late fall is an ideal season for planting apple trees. The preferred location is one with wind block to keep the apples from falling off before they are ripe.
- Size- These trees can be as tall as 40 feet, but the dwarf varieties are easy to maintain.
- Pruning- Pruning increases fruit production and should be done in winter.
- Symptoms of pest infection and diseases- Look for symptoms like stunted growth, yellowing of foliage, white layer on leaves, spots on fruits and leaves, and branch dieback.
- Fruits- Fruits usually appear after three or four years.
Nutritional value of apples:
- Carbs- Apples are primarily composed of water and carbs. So, they are replete with simple sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose.
- Vitamins and minerals- Apple contains multiple minerals and vitamins, Vitamin C being present in high amounts. Potassium, the main mineral present in apples is good for the heart.
- Fiber- Apples are also high in fiber, thus boosting digestion.
- Other plant compounds- Apples are also a source of several antioxidant compounds such as quercetin (anti-depressant), chlorogenic acid (improves muscle and brain function), and catechin (aids weight loss and lowers blood pressure).
Check out more information: Scientists Discover that Cutting Trees Can Save the Earth’s Forest From Excessive Drought and Heat.
Health benefits of eating apples:
- Fights against diabetes- People who eat apples regularly have fewer chances of developing type 2 diabetes. The reason behind this is that it has an ample amount of soluble fiber.
- Fights Cancer– Many studies on animals and test-tube babies have revealed that apples reduce the chances of having cancer in the colon and the lungs. Other studies have proved that people who eat apples regularly are at a lower risk of getting breast and colorectal cancer.
- Makes the heart-healthy- Apple is also a heart-friendly fruit, one that lessens the chances of being affected with cardiovascular diseases.
- Helps reduce irritable bowel syndrome- Irritable bowel syndrome can be characterized by diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, and bloating. Doctors recommend a minimum intake of fatty foods and dairy products in such cases. So, apple is a good replacement for people with IBS.
- Controls weight- The best way of managing weight is by exercising and eating healthy foods. Apple and other fruits give the body the required nutrients and also help the person maintain healthy body weight.
- Prevents hemorrhoids- Swollen veins in a person’s anal canal are called hemorrhoids. Fiber can control constipation and alleviate hemorrhoids.
- Detoxifies liver- One of the easiest and best things that help you detoxify the liver is apples.
- Strengthens immune system- Quercetin, an antioxidant present in red apples boosts the immune system.
Best time to eat apples:
As apples are rich in pectin, you should eat them in the morning. Since most people these days suffer from digestive problems due to insufficient sleep and unhealthy eating habits, eating an apple in the morning is a good idea. However, do not eat it or any other fruit in an empty stomach as it might aggravate acid reflux, causing distress.
If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet is a must. Apples are an excellent choice in this respect. So, keep having this healthy and tasty fruit. Planting an apple tree in your backyard is also a great idea.
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