Most of us are taught to keep well clear of anything radioactive unless we have no choice but to expose ourselves to it. It’s usually something that we really do try to avoid, but in some cases, such as fractures, we have no choice but to accept the exposure. But did you know that you have more than likely willingly put a radioactive substance into your mouth? Not only into your mouth, but also willingly swallowed it while enjoying the taste? And to really mess with your mind, apparently it’s good for you. So exactly what are we talking about? Well, believe it or not, bananas are radioactive.
Before you run off to your nearest supplier of personal radiation protection products so you can make a safe visit to your friendly local fruit grocer to warn them of the hazard they have been peddling to the unsuspecting public, just relax a little. While bananas are radioactive, they really aren’t that dangerous, and you are more likely to suffer this kind of serious radiation exposure than anything that a banana, or a million of them can throw at you.
Bananas are radioactive because they contain relatively high levels of potassium. They get this radioactive potassium, K-40 from the soil. The average banana contain about 450 mg of potassium, which isn’t very much at all. And the potassium itself has an isotopic abundance of 0.01% and a half-life of 1.25 billion years. For every gram of K-40 roughly 31 atoms will decay every second, and the average banana has slightly less than half a gram of the stuff. So how dangerous are they to eat?
Truth be told, they aren’t dangerous at all. While a hand of bananas will set off radiation alarms if you try to cross a border, this is only because Geiger counters can detect the tiny levels of radiation that they emit. As far as eating them is concerned, you would have to eat 5,000,000 of them before you started to suffer any signs of radiation sickness at all. Besides, potassium is an important element for proper nutrition. Avoid it and your health may suffer greater than if you decided to avoid the element for health concerns.
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