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The 10 worst forms of pollution

Radioactive waste

Photo: ZUMA Press

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Radioactive waste

Most radioactive waste comes as a result of nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons reprocessing, but it can also be the byproduct of medical and industrial procedures, coal or mineral mining, or oil processes. All radioactive waste carries the potential for water and air contamination. Radiation poisoning can cause severe genetic damage and may result in cancer. Some forms of radioactive waste can take thousands of years to decay, so once contamination occurs, the problem is often there to stay.