For example, radioactive iodine (specifically iodine-131) is frequently used to treat thyroid cancer, a disease that strikes about 11,000 Americans every year.
This allows researchers to study such things as the paths that different types of air and water pollution take through the environment.
Similarly, radiation has helped us learn more about the types of soil that different plants need to grow, the sizes of newly discovered oil fields, and the tracks of ocean currents.
In irradiation, for instance, foods, medical equipment, and other substances are exposed to certain types of radiation (such as x-rays) to kill germs without harming the substance that is being disinfected — and without making it radioactive.
When treated in this manner, foods take much longer to spoil, and medical equipment (such as bandages, hypodermic syringes, and surgical instruments) are sterilized without being exposed to toxic chemicals or extreme heat.
Similarly, radiation is used to help remove toxic pollutants, such as exhaust gases from coal-fired power stations and industry.
For example, electron beam radiation can remove dangerous sulphur dioxides and nitrogen oxides from our environment.X-rays and other forms of radiation also have a variety of therapeutic uses.When used in this way, they are most often intended to kill cancerous tissue, reduce the size of a tumor, or reduce pain.These instruments provide doctors with color images that show the shapes and details of internal organs.This helps physicians locate and identify tumors, size anomalies, or other physiological or functional organ problems.In addition, radiation has useful applications in such areas as agriculture, archaeology (carbon dating), space exploration, law enforcement, geology (including mining), and many others.