Nugget of Knowledge: Bananas

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Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – How many bananas would you have to eat to become radioactive?

Bananas are slightly radioactive because they are rich in potassium, and one of its natural isotopes is potassium-40, which is radioactive.

A truck full of bananas is radioactive enough to trigger a falser alarm on a radiation detector looking for hidden nuclear weapons. The radiation from 50 bananas equals about that in a dental x-ray.

But eating a banana won’t make you radioactive because you already are radioactive.

A typical adult contains around 140g of potassium and about 16mg is potassium-40, so an adult is around 280 times more radioactive than a banana.

Eating one increases your total amount of potassium-40 by 0.4%. A sensitive Geiger counter could pick that up, but it’s only temporary.

Your metabolism closely regulates the amount of potassium in your body, and you will excrete the excess within a few hours.

The skin of an unripe banana is full of water.

It gradually loses this water to the fruit inside.

The skin cells will wilt, making the overall skin thinner and more pliable. That’s why, as a banana ripens, its skin gets thinner.

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