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Uses of Isotopes in Our Daily Lives

Uses of Isotopes in Our Daily Lives

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Published by Vibhor Mathur

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Published by: Vibhor Mathur on Jun 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Uses of isotopes in our daily lives There are two types of isotopes, namely 1.the stable isotopes (non-radioactive)2.the non-stable isotopes (radioactive).Unstable isotopes go through radioactive decay and emit radiation and they are knownas radioisotopes.Radioisotopes have many applications in daily life.Several uses of radioisotopes in daily life are shown in Table below.MedicalGamma rays of cobalt-60 are used to kill cancer cells without surgery in patients. This treatment isknownas radiotherapy.Patients with skin cancer can be treated using beta rays from the isotopesphosphorus-32 and strontium-90Medical instruments such as surgical equipment, syringes and bandages can sterilizeby using gamma rays.Radioisotopes are also used as tracers.A small amount of sodium-24 is injected into thepatient's body.A radioactive detector is then used to detect accumulation of sodium-24and therefore detect tumours andblood clots before they become dangerous. This tracing method is also used to investigate the thyroid glands by measuringthe uptake of iodine-131.Plutonium-238 in a nuclear battery is used to produce small electric shocks in theheart pacemaker.People with irregular heartbeats need to have a heart pacemaker implanted insidetheir chest.The nuclear battery of the pacemaker provides a tiny electrical shock toensure a steady heartbeat.AgriculturalRadio isotopes are used to cause mutation in insects so as to make them sterile or tocause death. Theseserve as pest control in agriculture.The metabolism of phosphorus
by plants can be studied using phosphate fertilisers that contain phosphorus-32.Asmall amount of phosphorus-32 is used in fertilisers.The radiation produced by phosphorus-32decaying is detected by a Geiger-Miller counter.This method can trace thepassage of phosphate ions in plants..Carbon-14 is used to study the passage of carbon during photosynthesis in plants.IndustrialIsotope sodium-24 is used to detect leakage of underground pipes.Beta rays are used to control the thickness of plastic, paper and metal sheets infactory.Gamma rays are used to detect whether cans or bottles are filled up to the requiredamount.Sodium-24 is used to measure the wear out rate of engine in a vehicle.Food Preservation The gamma rays from cobalt-60 are used to kill bacteria in food to make fresh vegetables and fruitslastlonger without any change in quality, flavour and texture of food.Gamma rays are used to inhibit budding in potatoes.Archeology Radioisotope carbon-14 is used to study and estimate the age of ancient artifacts. Thismethod is named asthe radiocarbon dating.Production of Energ
 Plutonium is used in nuclear reactors to produce electrical energy
Examples of Common Isotope ApplicationsField Selected ApplicationsFood and agriculture
• Improve nutritional status and health of plants and animals
• Maximize optimal crop production
• Reduce food
-borne diseases and increase food preservationBiochemistry, biology, biotechnology, chemistry,physics, physiology
• Molecular studies
• Metabolic and biological tracers
• Exploration and understanding of the universe
 Earth sciences: geochemistry, geology,geophysics, hydrology, and marine, sciences
• Exploratio
n and preservation of natural resources
• Study of water resources and maintaining a safe and
abundant water supplyEcological and environmental research
• Environmental chemistry and measurements

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