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This condition called alpha decay happens due to an unstable nucleus because of a high number of protons. The alpha particle is released along with the kinetic energy it has. Typically, the alpha particle is made up of two protons as well as two neutrons. It is exactly like a helium nucleus. The nucleus is much more stable when the neutrons and protons are eliminated.

The Alpha Decay Symbol

It is just like the helium symbol because the number of protons and neutrons are the same.

Alpha decay

Alpha particle decay

Is Alpha Particle Decay Dangerous?

Any type of radiation is dangerous, even if it’s in small amounts though this type is not as dangerous as other types. The reason for this is that this type of particle is heavy in weight so it cannot travel fast or far into the environment. It also does not penetrate much and cannot seep through the clothing you are wearing. The good thing is that it cannot get into your skin unless you have an open would. If you do get exposure, it may cause burns but it cannot damage any of the tissues that lie under a person’s skin.

The Health Problems Related to Alpha Radiation Decay

Just like other types of radiation, the effects will occur only based on the amount of radiation exposure a person has and how long he or she has been exposed to it. This is a short-lived type of radiation and doesn’t do damage to a person’s skin but if swallowed or inhaled in any way, it can be very dangerous.

Alpha decay symbol

Alpha and beta decay

Some common effects are listed:

  1. Cancer can occur if you consistently inhale or swallow alpha decay radiation or if you get it into your body through a new wound that is open or has not healed yet. With this situation, lung cancer can develop due to inhalation and residue remaining in a person’s lungs. You can also contract bone cancer if you consume water that has been contaminated with this.
    2. Contaminated drinking water that has alpha radiation in it can also cause kidney problems if the water has a lot of uranium in it.
    3. Alpha radiation decay can also damage DNA which may lead to birth defects and other health problems. It may cause SCE, sister chromatic exchange which refers to when genetic information is shared between identical sister chromatids. If you have a high level of this, you may susceptible to the development of tumors.
    4. This type of alpha radiation exposure can also lead to ARS, Acute Radiation Syndrome which can occur when a person has an extremely high level of exposure. This is typically accompanies by vomiting, nausea and diarrhea quickly after exposure or shortly after. You may feel and look fine but non-diagnosis can be fatal. The good news is that it can be treated.

If you suspect you have high exposure to alpha radiation, get medical attention right away. Protect yourself and stay healthy, living a long and healthy life.