Main Difference – Irradiation vs Contamination
Irradiation and contamination are two different terms in chemistry. Irradiation is the exposure to radiation. This radiation can be alpha particles, X-ray, etc. Radiation is the emission or the transmission of energy as waves or particles. There are many applications of irradiation in medicine, industries, agriculture, etc. Contamination is the presence of unwanted substances. The substances that cause contaminations are called contaminants. There are chemical contaminants and biological contaminants. Chemical contaminants are chemical components whereas biological contaminants are living organisms. The main difference between irradiation and contamination is that irradiation is the exposure to radiation whereas contamination is the presence of unwanted substances.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Irradiation
– Definition, Applications
2. What is Contamination
– Definition, Different Types, Effects
3. What is the Difference Between Irradiation and Contamination
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Contaminants, Contamination, Irradiation, Nuclear Fission, Radiation, Sterilization, X-Ray
What is Irradiation
Irradiation is the exposure to radiation. This radiation can either come from a natural source or a synthetic source. The term irradiation is used to explain the exposure to ionizing radiation which excludes visible light, microwaves, and other non-ionizing radiation forms. Irradiation has many applications. Some common examples are given below.
Irradiation is used as a cancer treatment. Here, the area which is affected by a cancer is exposed to a beam of radiation. This is known as a successful method of cancer therapy. X-ray radiation is also used to obtain X-ray radiographs. These X-ray radiographs show the shadows of bones and other structures of the body that X rays cannot pass through.
Food can be exposed to radiation such as gamma radiation in order to improve the safety of food and to extend the shelf life. Radiation does not make considerable changes in the texture, taste, and appearance of food.
Irradiation is used to sterilize surgery equipment, laboratory equipment, etc. by killing microbes on the surface of the utensils.
Irradiation is used to remove toxic pollutants in power stations and other industries. It is also used to improve product quality.
Irradiation is used to improve food production and in packaging. It can also be used to control the insect population in agricultural areas.
Nuclear power plants use radiation to generate energy by nuclear fission.
What is Contamination
Contamination is the presence of unwanted substances in a sample. Hence a contamination is considered as an impurity. Contaminations can result in changes in the appearance, texture, reactions or any other properties of the sample. The substance that causes a contamination is known as a contaminant.
Contaminants can be categorized as follows.
- Organic contaminants
- Inorganic contaminants
Chemical contaminants are unwanted chemical components present in a sample such as drinking water. These contaminants can be either organic compounds or inorganic compounds. For example, chemical contaminants in drinking water are fertilizers, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.
Biological contaminants are living organisms that contaminate a sample. They can be bacteria, viruses or moulds. Presence of biological contaminants can be used as an indicator to qualify drinking water.
Contaminations in laboratory scale can cause faulty outcomes from research. This is because these unwanted chemical components can undergo unfavorable chemical reactions when conducting a particular experiment. When it comes to the environment, the presence of contamination is recognized as pollution. It can harm the environment and animal species. For example, heavy metals and oil waste released to waterways from factories can cause fish and other organisms to die.
Difference Between Irradiation and Contamination
Irradiation: Irradiation is the exposure to radiation.
Contamination: Contamination is the presence of unwanted substances in a sample.
Irradiation: Radiation causes irradiation.
Contamination: Radiation does not cause contamination.
Irradiation: Irradiation does not change the texture, taste, and appearance to a considerable degree.
Contamination: Contamination changes the appearance, texture, reactions or any other properties of a sample.
Irradiation: Irradiation has a wide variety of uses including medical uses, industrial applications, nuclear power plants, etc.
Contamination: Contaminations are not that much useful, but can be used as indicators for pollution and presence of impurities in a sample.
Irradiation and contamination are two important processes that have various applications or considerations. The main difference between irradiation and contamination is that irradiation is the exposure to radiation whereas contamination is the presence of unwanted substances.
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2. “Irradiation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Oct. 2017, Available here.
3. “Irradiation vs Contamination.” Teach Nuclear, Available here.
4. “Contamination | Biological and Chemical | Types Of Contaminants.” Chemistry, Byjus Classes, 6 Sept. 2017, Available here.
1. “Chest X-ray 2346” By Doctoroftcm – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Aspergillus sp. plate” By Ninjatacoshell – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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