Did You Know Bananas Are Radioactive?

Bananas are radioactive
Industry News

Well, that got your attention didn’t it?

Don’t worry, we are talking about extremely low levels of radioactivity from the potassium that they contain.  

According to the government funded Health Direct website “Potassium is essential for life. It allows the nerves to respond to stimulation and muscles to contract (tighten), including those in the heart. It also offsets the effect of sodium (present in table salt) in raising blood pressure and moves nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells.” 

So don’t go bananas, just keep eating bananas!  

This is a good example of how radioactivity is part of the natural environment. 

Potassium (K) is a widely encountered element with an exceedingly small fraction of its atoms, about 0.012%, being radioactive. These K-40 atoms spontaneously decay, releasing electrons (beta radiation) as well as gamma rays. 

We recently supplied a university in Australia with a RadEye B20 survey / dose meter, so they could measure the radiation dose received from a bunch of bananas. 

Thermo Scientific RadEye B20
RadEye B20 Radiation Detector

 

To put things into perspective, the chart below shows radiation levels in bananas. You would need to eat 100,000,000 bananas to receive a fatal dose of radiation. 

Banana radiation chart

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27 August 2021