Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nuclear Bomb Testing Turned Our Teeth Into Radioactive Clocks

How 1950s Nuclear Bomb Testing Turned Our Teeth Into Radioactive Clocks "Above ground nuclear tests in the middle of the Century introduced significant amounts of radioactive carbon into the atmosphere—and into all living things. And while our skin cells are constantly regenerating, the enamel in our teeth is only made once, bearing signs of the atmosphere in which they were created."

Bizarre, cool, and kinda scary all at once.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No need to worry about the carbon-14 radioisotope in your enamel. It's commonly used for ADME studies in drug development, and as far as radioactive elements are concerned, relatively harmless.

However, the Strontium-90 released by those same above ground nuke tests.....well, that's a whole different story. As a chemical cousin of Calcium, it accumulates in bones (and probably teeth as well), and has been linked to osteosarcoma and leukemia.

I must say I was not aware that our enamel was made only once. Tooth enamel is, however, not inert material. For while it may not cycle carbon, it can be altered by an ion-exchange type reaction whereby an hydroxide ion is swapped for a flourine ion (flouride), which apparently makes teeth less likely to develop decay.