What Is Radiation? And The Effect In Human Beings


What Is Radiation

Radiation is an energy that produced from a source and that travels through space and may be able to penetrate various materials. Light, radio, and microwaves are types of radiation that are called nonionizing.
Ionizing radiation is produced by unstable atoms. Unstable atoms differ from stable atoms because unstable atoms have an excess of energy or mass or both. Radiation can also be produced by high-voltage devices (e.g, x-ray machines).

Common Types of Radiation

Gamma Rays

Gamma rays are electromagnetic waves or photons emitted from the nucleus (centre) of an atom.


A beta is a high speed particle, identical to an electron, that is emitted from the nucleus of an atom


An alpha is a particle emitted from the nucleus of an atom, that contains two protons and two neutrons. It is identical to the nucleus of a Helium atom, without the electrons.


Neutrons are neutral particles that are normally contained in the nucleus of all atoms and may be removed by various interactions or processes like collision and fission

X rays

X Rays are electromagnetic waves or photons not emitted from the nucleus, but normally emitted by energy changes in electrons. These energy changes are either in electron orbital shells that surround an atom or in the process of slowing down such as in an X-ray machine


Radiations can be classified in two categories- waves and particles.

Waves radiation

The spectrum of electromagnetic waves contains the different types of wave radiations.
An electromagnetic wave has a wave length and a frequency, their multiplication = the velocity of light c . Its energy = Planks constant x its frequency. Long waves, Short waves, Microwaves, Infrared, Visible light, Ultraviolet, X rays, and Gamma radiations are all types of wave radiations. Some of these radiations are ionizing such as Ultraviolet, X rays, and Gamma radiations. The other types of wave radiations are non ionizing radiations.

Particle radiations

Particle radiations are either charged particle such as alpha, beta, protons, deuterons, or neutral particles such as neutrons. Of course charged particle radiations cause direct ionization because of their charges. Neutron radiations cause also ionization, indirectly due to their nuclear interactions.
Radiations can be natural ( natural radioactivity ) as that of natural radioactive nuclei such as Uranium, Radium, Thorium, Potassium, and Cosmic rays. These natural radioactivity constitute the Back-ground radiations. The other type is the man-made radiations like radioisotopes made specially for medical or research purposes.

Complication of radiation

(A rem is a large amount of radiation, This relates the absorbed dose in human tissue to the effective biological damage of the radiation. Not all radiation has the same biological effect, even for the same amount of absorbed dose. Equivalent dose is often expressed in terms of thousandths of a rem)
(1) Hair

The losing of hair quickly and in clumps occurs with radiation exposure at 200 rems or higher.

(2) Brain

Since brain cells do not reproduce, they won’t be damaged directly unless the exposure is 5,000 rems or greater. Like the heart, radiation kills nerve cells and small blood vessels, and can cause seizures and immediate death.

(3) Thyroid

The certain body parts are more specifically affected by exposure to different types of radiation sources. The thyroid gland is susceptible to radioactive iodine. In sufficient amounts, radioactive iodine can destroy all or part of the thyroid. By taking potassium iodide, one can reduce the effects of exposure.

(4) Blood System

When a person is exposed to around 100 rems, the blood’s lymphocyte cell count will be reduced, leaving the victim more susceptible to infection. This is often referred to as mild radiation sickness. Early symptoms of radiation sickness mimic those of flu and may go unnoticed unless a blood count is done.According to data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, show that symptoms may persist for up to 10 years and may also have an increased long-term risk for leukaemia and lymphoma.

(5) Heart

Intense exposure to radioactive material at 1,000 to 5,000 rems would do immediate damage to small blood vessels and probably cause heart failure and death directly.

(6) Gastrointestinal Tract

Radiation damage to the intestinal tract lining will cause nausea, bloody vomiting and diarrhoea. This is occurs when the victim’s exposure is 200 rems or more. The radiation will begin to destroy the cells in the body that divide rapidly. These including blood, GI tract, reproductive and hair cells, and harms their DNA and RNA of surviving cells.

(7) Reproductive Tract

Because reproductive tract cells divide rapidly, these areas of the body can be damaged at rem levels as low as 200. Long-term, some radiation sickness victims will become sterile.

Experts say even small radiation doses, as low as 100 millisieverts, can slightly raise cancer risk Exposure to 1,000 millisieverts is estimated to increase risk of fatal cancer by about 5% Leukaemia, a bone marrow cancer, is the most common radiation-induced cancer Others include cancer of lung, skin, thyroid, breast and stomach can take years to develop, Half of those exposed to between 4,000-5,000 millisiverts die in a month

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