Radioactivity is the process by which chemical elements decay from unstable to stable states by emitting sub-atomic particles and/or energy from molecules over a period of time ranging from infinitesimal fractions of a second to thousands of millions of years. Many elements exist in different isotopes, which are variant forms of molecular structure within elements of the same number and position on the periodic table of elements. Some isotopes undergo radioactive decay from an unstable isotope to a stable isotope. The process of emitting particles and energies can make radioactivity harmful to life since these emissions can be toxic or stimulate harmful growths or mutations in living cells.

The worst peacetime incident involving the release of radioactive material occurred in Ukraine in 1986, when part of ...

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