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RADIO – ISOTOPES

RADIO – ISOTOPES

  • Radioisotopes are those isotopes of certain elements which are unstable and thus radioactive.
  • For example, lodine-131, Indium-192, Molybdenum-99, Chromium-51, Phosphorus-32.
  • These are either man-made in nuclear reactor or found in nature.

APPLICATIONS

These are useful in the field of agriculture, medical diagnosis and treatment, water management and industries:

AGRICULTURE

  • In the field of agriculture radioisotopes are used for developing mutant crop varieties such as for rice, wheat, pulses etc which are hybrid varieties having high yield and resistant to various diseases.
  • BARC in collaboration with agricultural universities has successfully developed various high yielding crop varieties of groundnut, pulses, rice etc for commercial cultivation.
  • BARC has successfully developed green manure crop Sesbania Rostrata.

MEDICINE AND HEALTH CARE

  • Radio-isotopes such as Cobalt-60, Arsenic-74 are used in treating thyroid disorders and various types of cancer.
  • BARC’s Radiation medicine center in Mumbai is involved in R&D in nuclear medicine.
  • It offers diagnostic and therapeutic services using radioisotopes and promotes human resource development in nuclear medicine.
  • Radioimmunoassay says and related procedures are used for measurements of hormones, enzymes, certain serum proteins.
  • Another important development is digital medical imaging system based on charge coupled device (CCD). For detection of disease infection of TB, BARC has developed sere-diagnostic test kit, X-ray imaging using a 3-D cone-beam tomography I another important development.

WATER MANAGEMENT

  • BARC has developed a number of desalination technologies for providing potable water in rural areas and on ships.
  • These technologies are based on multistage flash evaporation reverse osmosis and low temperature evaporation.

INDUSTRY

  • In the field of industry, radio-isotopes are used for food irradiation, quality control of industrial products and testing of sub-systems.

FOOD IRRADIATION

  • It is a method of food preservation which involves exposing food to ionizing radiation up to 10Mn eV.
  • When the food items are subjected to radiation, electrons are knocked off from atoms and molecules, thereby breaking the chemical bonds and thus destroying enzymes needed for the cellular functions.
  • The substances that are normally used for food irradiation are Cobalt-60, X-rays, high energy electrons.
  • The Indian Parliament in 1994 amended the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and provided for irradiation of spices, potatoes, onions and other tubers. BARC in 1999 established a spice irradiation center at Vashi near Bombay.
  • The department of atomic energy in 2001 established POTON (irradiating center for potato and onion) near Nasik in Maharashtra.

POTENTIAL USES

  1. It kills bacteria and other microbes found in the food stuff. Thus, it helps in increasing shelf life of certain food items.
  2. By disturbing the cellular function in tubers such as potato and onion, it prevents the sprouting of potato and onion in storage.
  3. It can also help in avoiding use of harmful chemicals such as methyl bromide.
  4. Food can be irradiated in packed condition and thus contamination of food during packaging can be avoided.

LIMITATIONS

  1. Irradiation can destroy bacteria but cannot neutralize toxins produced by bacteria in food stuff.
  2. It may also create artificial flavors and taste in certain items. It may also destroy the vitamins
  3. It also involves establishment of sophisticated and costly equipment therefore small and medium scale industries may not have access to such facilities.
  4. It also requires strict regulations by government because of health hazards that may be caused due to over exposure to irradiation.

 

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SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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