geek science

Where is the most radioactive place on Earth?

Derek Muller from Veritasium went on a wild hunt for the most radioactive place on Earth. Regularly we get about 4 micro Sieverts of radioactivity in our bodies daily, which is a-ok, but you can get about 1.5 mSv, miliSieverts in one year.

A CT scan is about 7000 micro Sieverts or 7 mili Sieverts. The people living near Fukushima will receive and extra 10 000 microSieverts during their lifetime. In about 6 months an astronaut will receive 80 000 microSieverts.

But the most Sieverts in each year receives a smoker’s lung: 160 000 microSieverts each year. That means a smoker eats up radiation 100 times more than the natural background radiation. Quite a lot. And this happens because the existence of radioactive polonium and lead present in the tobacco.


Things that are radioactive and you don’t know it

Everything on Earth is radioactive. Do not forget that the Earth is also radioactive and gives off heat due to radioactive decay that is happening inside it. Due to this radioactive decay Earth will have enough heat for 1 billion years ahead.

So, a couple of things that are radioactive that we often might encounter:
– bananas – potassium-40 (these are also an unofficial radioactivity unit called BED – banana equivalent dose)
– kitty litter – bentonite (contains traces or uranium and thorium)
– NY Grand Central Station – granite
– emergency Exit signs – tritium (radioactive isotope of hydrogen, tritium + phosphorus = radioluminescence )
– brazil nuts – radium

In any case the radiation we are exposed to when we fly with the airplane is way more than you could get from these items in one year. And that is still a manageable level, of course.

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SciShow: what happens in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone?

Hank Green tells us that life in Chernobyl has continued and, without the humans around to spoil the party, tons of wild animals have come in there and made it their home. Many plants and animals seen to thrive in there, although it seems that the radioactivity really hurts most of the animals.

Trees. The dead trees remained the same ad when the reactor exploded back almost 30 years ago. Chernobyl is still an exclusion zone, a place where you shouldn’t go.