fallout

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fallout,

minute particles of radioactive material produced by nuclear explosions (see atomic bombatomic bomb
or A-bomb,
weapon deriving its explosive force from the release of nuclear energy through the fission (splitting) of heavy atomic nuclei. The first atomic bomb was produced at the Los Alamos, N.Mex., laboratory and successfully tested on July 16, 1945.
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; hydrogen bombhydrogen bomb
or H-bomb,
weapon deriving a large portion of its energy from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes. In an atomic bomb, uranium or plutonium is split into lighter elements that together weigh less than the original atoms, the remainder of the mass
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; ChernobylChernobyl
, Ukr. Chornobyl, abandoned city, N Ukraine, near the Belarus border, on the Pripyat River. Ten miles (16 km) to the north, in the town of Pripyat, is the Chernobyl nuclear power station, site of the worst nuclear reactor disaster in history. On Apr.
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) or by discharge from nuclear-power or atomic installations and scattered throughout the earth's atmosphere by winds and convection currents. Heavier fallout particles tend to settle to earth around the explosion site and downwind from it soon after the explosion. Lighter particles may stay in the atmosphere for years. Radioactive decay products in fallout include strontium-90, potassium-40, carbon-14, and iodine-131. They may contaminate food supplies if taken up by plants and animals or contaminate water supplies by falling into streams. If they accumulate in the human body, they can form concentrated internal sources of dangerous radiation. Fallout may thus be a cause of leukemialeukemia
, cancerous disorder of the blood-forming tissues (bone marrow, lymphatics, liver, spleen) characterized by excessive production of immature or mature leukocytes (white blood cells; see blood) and consequently a crowding-out of red blood cells and platelets.
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, bone cancercancer,
in medicine, common term for neoplasms, or tumors, that are malignant. Like benign tumors, malignant tumors do not respond to body mechanisms that limit cell growth.
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, and other diseases. It can also cause genetic damage.

fallout

[′fȯl‚au̇t]
(electronics)
Failure of electronic components during burn-in.
(nucleonics)
The material that descends to the earth or water well beyond the site of a surface or subsurface nuclear explosion. Also known as atomic fallout; radioactive fallout.

fallout

1. the descent of solid material in the atmosphere onto the earth, esp of radioactive material following a nuclear explosion
2. any solid particles that so descend