Q:

What is the importance of radioactivity?

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Quick Answer

Although it can be destructive, radioactivity is also beneficial, especially when it comes to medical tests and certain medical treatments. Not only can radiation find tumors within the body, it can also destroy them or slow their growth. Without radiation, society would not have medical imaging technology, such as X-rays. Radiation also makes it possible to study matter, plants and animals in an effort to understand the universe better.

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Radiation can also be used to create electrical energy. Nuclear reactor plants are located all over the country for this purpose. These plants use uranium in fission reactions to produce heat and steam. The steam is then used to turn a turbine, thus creating electricity.

Additionally, radiation can be used to clean and sterilize medical equipment, medical instruments and even food. This is accomplished by focusing concentrated beams on objects that need to be sterilized. The radiation kills bacteria and other organisms that cause contamination and disease. Since sterilization is performed using certain types of radiation along with electromagnetic energy, there is no residual radiation leftover to contaminate the objects.

While radiation has many benefits, too much of it can kill people, animals, plants, trees and any other living thing it comes into contact with on Earth. This is especially true if there is prolonged exposure.

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