Ambient Air, CANCER-CHECK: Ambient Air, Soil

AIRBORNE: DISPLACED RADIATION

The mid aged man retired to his rural hut after a day’s job in the field.

Though the skies had been cloudy for sometime, it had not rained in a while.

The cold weather created a deception…

An expectancy of what was not coming soon.

‘Empty’ clouds kept gathering everyday only creating hope which would soon vanish into thin air after being dispersed by the noon day sun.

But as a farmer, he kept on hoping.

This same hope also kept him going on in regard to his humble abode…his hut.

Since time immemorial, the community around him had used local soil as available raw material for hut construction.

But recently, some experts had made inroads into their area on a research escapade.

Their concern was the presence of radioactive substances in the soils around their locality.

Apparently, these radioactive substances were not just confined to the soil but had become incorporated into the construction material their huts were made off.

But the most worrying thing was the radioactive emmissions being released from their huts originating from the constriction material.

Day in, day out, they were like sitting ducks absorbing radiation from isotopes buried below them not knowing that this was the genesis of the health complications they had struggled with for a while.

It was more of a mystery why the instances of cancer had been on the rise in the village especially among children.

The puzzle behind a high occurence of cardiovascular disease was hard to put together.

Background radiation had been the culprit all along.

BACKGROUND RADIATION

Background radiation is released from isotopes of radioactive metals present in our soils.

Radioactive isotopes are basically unstable atoms which convert into other more stable atoms through the release of ionizing radiation such as alpha, beta and gamma rays…

This radiation is also known as ionizing because it transfers immense energy to our bodies leading to health complications.

Though some isotopes are stable, others such as those of Uranium, Thorium, Radium etc are very potent in release of radiation as they convert into the next-in-line element…

A process that happens naturally also known as the natural radioactive series.

RADON GAS

Though most of the intermediaries in these decay series are metallic, of concern is Radon which is a gas meaning that it could be easily inhaled.

Radon gas filters are a common feature in some Western jurisdictions given the prevelance of such isotopes in nature.

But beyond that, more needs to be done by governments such as Kenya in protecting locals who are exposed to background radiation due to rock geology.

STRATEGIES

First, universities and research institutions must up their game in mapping out zones with soils suspected to have trace levels of radiaoctive isotopes.

Besides local communities being sensitized accordingly, medical drives should be done to help in diagnosis of possible health complications for prevention and treatment.

Secondly, innovators in the air quality sector must not tire in designing and testing of radon gas filters.

Since several nations have managed to deploy these filters there is room for technological transfer in order to safeguard lives of communities inhabiting native lands with soils having trace radioisotope levels.

Lastly, for the rest of us, testing of the rock material and water before begining construction is of crucial importance.

I know this looks daunting but there are government departments such as the ministry of mines in Kenya whose labs have instruments capable of detecting trace radioisotope levels.

IN CONCLUSION

Background radiation is a permanent problem unique to specific communities.

Though permanent, solutions could still be found to safegurad these same communities from its adverse effects.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

N.B: All characters are fiction

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