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    an isotope undergoes radioactive decay by emitting radiation that has no mass. what other characteristic does the radiation have? some shielding required positive or negative charge low penetrating power no charge

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    Radiation Basics

    Radiation can come from unstable atoms or it can be produced by machines. There are two kinds of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. Learn about alpha, beta, gamma and x-ray radiation.

    Radiation Basics

    Dose Calculator

    Estimate your yearly dose from the most common sources of ionizing radiation with this interactive online dose calculator.

    Radiation is energy. It can come from unstable atoms that undergo radioactive decay, or it can be produced by machines. Radiation travels from its source in the form of energy waves or energized particles. There are different forms of radiation and they have different properties and effects.

    Related information in Spanish (Información relacionada en español)

    On this page:

    Ionizing and non-ionizing radiation

    Electromagnetic spectrum

    Types of ionizing radiation

    Periodic Table

    Non-Ionizing and Ionizing Radiation

    There are two kinds of radiation: non-ionizing radiation and ionizing radiation.

    Non-ionizing radiation has enough energy to move atoms in a molecule around or cause them to vibrate, but not enough to remove electrons from atoms. Examples of this kind of radiation are radio waves, visible light and microwaves.

    Ionizing radiation has so much energy it can knock electrons out of atoms, a process known as ionization. Ionizing radiation can affect the atoms in living things, so it poses a health risk by damaging tissue and DNA in genes. Ionizing radiation comes from x-ray machines, cosmic particles from outer space and radioactive elements. Radioactive elements emit ionizing radiation as their atoms undergo radioactive decay.

    Radioactive decay is the emission of energy in the form of . The ionizing radiation that is emitted can include , and/or . Radioactive decay occurs in unstable atoms called radionuclides.

    Electromagnetic Spectrum

    The energy of the radiation shown on the spectrum below increases from left to right as the frequency rises.

    EPA’s mission in radiation protection is to protect human health and the environment from the ionizing radiation that comes from human use of radioactive elements. Other agencies regulate the non-ionizing radiation that is emitted by electrical devices such as radio transmitters or cell phones (See: Radiation Resources Outside of EPA).

    Types of Ionizing Radiation

    Alpha Particles

    Alpha particles (α) are positively charged and made up of two protons and two neutrons from the atom’s nucleus. Alpha particles come from the decay of the heaviest radioactive elements, such as uranium, radium and polonium. Even though alpha particles are very energetic, they are so heavy that they use up their energy over short distances and are unable to travel very far from the atom.

    The health effect from exposure to alpha particles depends greatly on how a person is exposed. Alpha particles lack the energy to penetrate even the outer layer of skin, so exposure to the outside of the body is not a major concern. Inside the body, however, they can be very harmful. If alpha-emitters are inhaled, swallowed, or get into the body through a cut, the alpha particles can damage sensitive living tissue. The way these large, heavy particles cause damage makes them more dangerous than other types of radiation. The ionizations they cause are very close together - they can release all their energy in a few cells. This results in more severe damage to cells and DNA.

    Beta Particles

    Beta particles (β) are small, fast-moving particles with a negative electrical charge that are emitted from an atom’s nucleus during radioactive decay. These particles are emitted by certain unstable atoms such as hydrogen-3 (tritium), carbon-14 and strontium-90.

    Beta particles are more penetrating than alpha particles, but are less damaging to living tissue and DNA because the ionizations they produce are more widely spaced. They travel farther in air than alpha particles, but can be stopped by a layer of clothing or by a thin layer of a substance such as aluminum. Some beta particles are capable of penetrating the skin and causing damage such as skin burns. However, as with alpha-emitters, beta-emitters are most hazardous when they are inhaled or swallowed.

    Gamma Rays

    Gamma rays (γ) are weightless packets of energy called photons. Unlike alpha and beta particles, which have both energy and mass, gamma rays are pure energy. Gamma rays are similar to visible light, but have much higher energy. Gamma rays are often emitted along with alpha or beta particles during radioactive decay.

    Gamma rays are a radiation hazard for the entire body. They can easily penetrate barriers that can stop alpha and beta particles, such as skin and clothing. Gamma rays have so much penetrating power that several inches of a dense material like lead, or even a few feet of concrete may be required to stop them. Gamma rays can pass completely through the human body; as they pass through, they can cause ionizations that damage tissue and DNA.

    Source : www.epa.gov

    Types of Radioactive Decay Flashcards

    Start studying Types of Radioactive Decay. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.

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    An atom that has 84 protons and 86 neutrons undergoes a reaction. At the end of the reaction, it has 82 protons and 84 neutrons. What happened to the atom?

    It accepted radiation in a chemical reaction.

    It donated neutrons to another atom in a chemical reaction.

    It emitted an alpha particle in a nuclear reaction.

    It accepted protons in a nuclear reaction.

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    NOT A

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    Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of a deuterium atom consists of one proton and one neutron. When two deuterium nuclei fuse, helium-3 is formed, and a neutron is emitted. Which equation illustrates this process?

    Click card to see definition 👆

    NOT B A

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    Terms in this set (12)

    An atom that has 84 protons and 86 neutrons undergoes a reaction. At the end of the reaction, it has 82 protons and 84 neutrons. What happened to the atom?

    It accepted radiation in a chemical reaction.

    It donated neutrons to another atom in a chemical reaction.

    It emitted an alpha particle in a nuclear reaction.

    It accepted protons in a nuclear reaction.

    NOT A

    Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of a deuterium atom consists of one proton and one neutron. When two deuterium nuclei fuse, helium-3 is formed, and a neutron is emitted. Which equation illustrates this process?

    NOT B A

    What can form as a result of a chemical reaction?

    compounds isotopes alpha particles beta particles A

    What is a key difference between chemical and nuclear reactions?

    In chemical reactions, new compounds are formed. In nuclear reactions, compounds are destroyed.

    Chemical reactions involve electron rearrangements. Nuclear reactions involve changes to the nucleus.

    Chemical reactions involve large changes in energy. Nuclear reactions absorb or release small amounts of energy.

    In chemical reactions, only alpha radiation is emitted. In nuclear reactions, alpha, beta, and gamma decay may occur.

    B

    A scientist notices that a lump of niobium is warm to the touch and wonders if nuclear reactions are taking place in the metal. How can she find out?

    Measure the metal's temperature.

    Check for the presence of alpha, beta, and gamma particles.

    Look for the presence of niobium compounds.

    Place the niobium in a pressurized container, and see if the lump becomes warmer.

    B

    Which statement correctly compares chemical reactions with nuclear reactions?

    In chemical reactions, new isotopes are formed. In nuclear reactions, new compounds are formed.

    Chemical reactions can be represented by balanced equations. Nuclear reactions cannot be represented by balanced equations.

    In chemical reactions, small amounts of energy can be absorbed or released. In nuclear reactions, changes in energy are much larger.

    In chemical reactions, only protons and neutrons are affected. In nuclear reactions, only electrons are affected.

    C

    While a certain isotope decays, it emits photons. What kind of decay is happening?

    alpha decay beta decay gamma decay positron decay C

    Two protons and two neutrons are released as a result of this reaction.

    mc017-1.jpgRn mc017-2.jpgPo + ?

    Which particle is released?

    one alpha particle two beta particles

    one alpha and one beta particle

    one high-energy photon

    A

    How can a scientist assess whether a pure niobium (Nb) sample is responsible for contaminating the lab with radioactivity?

    Test the niobium sample to see whether it now contains other elements.

    Test the niobium sample for the presence of niobium oxide compounds.

    Heat the niobium, and see if the level of radioactivity in

    the lab increases.

    Place the niobium under pressure, and see if the level of radioactivity in the lab increases.

    A

    An isotope undergoes radioactive decay by emitting radiation that has a -1 charge. What other characteristic does the radiation have?

    some shielding required

    no mass large mass

    high penetrating power

    A

    An isotope undergoes radioactive decay. The new isotope that forms has an atomic number that is 2 less than the original isotope's.

    Which kind of decay has occurred, and how do you know?

    alpha decay because alpha particles have a large mass

    beta decay because beta particles can have negative charge

    alpha decay because alpha particles have two protons and two neutrons

    gamma decay because gamma rays are photons

    B

    In alpha decay, alpha particles are ejected from the nucleus. Which equation represents alpha decay?

    A

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    17.3: Types of Radioactivity: Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Decay

    The major types of radioactivity include alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays. Fission is a type of radioactivity in which large nuclei spontaneously break apart into smaller nuclei.

    17.3: Types of Radioactivity: Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Decay

    Last updated Jul 1, 2019

    17.2: The Discovery of Radioactivity

    17.4: Detecting Radioactivity

    Learning Objectives

    Compare qualitatively the ionizing and penetration power of alpha particles

    (α) (α) , beta particles (β) (β) , and gamma rays (γ) (γ) .

    Express the changes in the atomic number and mass number of a radioactive nuclei when an alpha, beta, or gamma particle is emitted.

    Write nuclear equations for alpha and beta decay reactions.

    Many nuclei are radioactive; that is, they decompose by emitting particles and in doing so, become a different nucleus. In our studies up to this point, atoms of one element were unable to change into different elements. That is because in all other types of changes discussed, only the electrons were changing. In these changes, the nucleus, which contains the protons that dictate which element an atom is, is changing. All nuclei with 84 or more protons are radioactive, and elements with less than 84 protons have both stable and unstable isotopes. All of these elements can go through nuclear changes and turn into different elements.

    In natural radioactive decay, three common emissions occur. When these emissions were originally observed, scientists were unable to identify them as some already known particles and so named them:

    alpha particles ( α α ) beta particles (β) (β) gamma rays (γ) (γ)

    These particles were named using the first three letters of the Greek alphabet. Some later time, alpha particles were identified as helium-4 nuclei, beta particles were identified as electrons, and gamma rays as a form of electromagnetic radiation like x-rays, except much higher in energy and even more dangerous to living systems.

    The Ionizing and Penetration Power of Radiation

    With all the radiation from natural and man-made sources, we should quite reasonably be concerned about how all the radiation might affect our health. The damage to living systems is done by radioactive emissions when the particles or rays strike tissue, cells, or molecules and alter them. These interactions can alter molecular structure and function; cells no longer carry out their proper function and molecules, such as DNA, no longer carry the appropriate information. Large amounts of radiation are very dangerous, even deadly. In most cases, radiation will damage a single (or very small number) of cells by breaking the cell wall or otherwise preventing a cell from reproducing.

    The ability of radiation to damage molecules is analyzed in terms of what is called ionizing power. When a radiation particle interacts with atoms, the interaction can cause the atom to lose electrons and thus become ionized. The greater the likelihood that damage will occur by an interaction is the ionizing power of the radiation.

    Much of the threat from radiation is involved with the ease or difficulty of protecting oneself from the particles. How thick of a wall do you need to hide behind to be safe? The ability of each type of radiation to pass through matter is expressed in terms of penetration power. The more material the radiation can pass through, the greater the penetration power and the more dangerous it is. In general, the greater mass present, the greater the ionizing power, and the lower the penetration power.

    Comparing only the three common types of ionizing radiation, alpha particles have the greatest mass. Alpha particles have approximately four times the mass of a proton or neutron and approximately 8,000 times the mass of a beta particle. Because of the large mass of the alpha particle, it has the highest ionizing power and the greatest ability to damage tissue. That same large size of alpha particles, however, makes them less able to penetrate matter. They collide with molecules very quickly when striking matter, add two electrons, and become a harmless helium atom. Alpha particles have the least penetration power and can be stopped by a thick sheet of paper or even a layer of clothes. They are also stopped by the outer layer of dead skin on people. This may seem to remove the threat from alpha particles, but it is only from external sources. In a nuclear explosion or some sort of nuclear accident, where radioactive emitters are spread around in the environment, the emitters can be inhaled or taken in with food or water and once the alpha emitter is inside you, you have no protection at all.

    Beta particles are much smaller than alpha particles and therefore, have much less ionizing power (less ability to damage tissue), but their small size gives them much greater penetration power. Most resources say that beta particles can be stopped by a one-quarter inch thick sheet of aluminum. Once again, however, the greatest danger occurs when the beta emitting source gets inside of you.

    Gamma rays are not particles, but a high energy form of electromagnetic radiation (like x-rays, except more powerful). Gamma rays are energy that has no mass or charge. Gamma rays have tremendous penetration power and require several inches of dense material (like lead) to shield them. Gamma rays may pass all the way through a human body without striking anything. They are considered to have the least ionizing power and the greatest penetration power.

    Source : chem.libretexts.org

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