Ionizing Radiation: What Is It and What Are the Dangers?

Ionizing Radiation: What Is It and What Are the Dangers?

How much do you know about the ionizing radiation sources present in your life? Ionizing radiation is all around us in nature and in everyday objects that you usually wouldn’t think twice about.

Though the risk of ionizing radiation affecting your health is low, it’s still important to be aware of the dangers and risks it can carry.

It’s time to read this guide to ionizing radiation and learn what you need to know!

What Is Ionizing Radiation?

Ionizing radiation is high-energy radiation that removes electron particles from an atom or a molecule, which causes it to become ionized. These atoms and molecules are present in materials like water, air, and living tissue in humans.

The dangers of ionizing radiation are from the ionization of the molecules inside the cells of our body. This ionization can alter them over time and cause harmful damage.

Sources of Ionizing Radiation

The ionizing radiation that comes from natural sources is usually at low levels. These levels of exposure depend on where you live, the altitude, and the types of building materials used in your home. Natural sources of ionizing radiation include:

  • Solar radiation from space
  • Earth radiation like rocks and soil
  • Radiation from building materials like natural stone and granite

Ionizing radiation also comes from manmade sources and helps us live more healthy lives. You’ll find ionizing radiation in smoke detectors and medical exams like:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
  • Most nuclear medicine procedures

Medical tests give off minimal doses of ionizing radiation. For example, a 10-hour plane flight has the same amount of ionizing radiation as one chest x-ray.

CT scans have higher doses of ionizing radiation than x-rays, but the chances of developing long-term health effects are very low.

Read Also: Why You Can Benefit from an Electrical Safety Program

Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation

The health effects you can experience from ionizing radiation depend on the duration of exposure and how much of it you’re exposed to.

Radiation injuries to the skin usually appear from a few hours to several weeks after exposure. Symptoms include skin redness, blistering, itching, and tingling.

Workers exposed to high doses of radiation in a short period of time can cause develop acute radiation syndrome (ARS). ARS is a rare occurrence today, but it can cause severe symptoms like:

  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Imbalance of electrolytes
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Seizures

The long-term effects of high doses of ionizing radiation can increase your risk for certain cancers like leukemia, multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer.

Ionizing Radiation Safety Training

Safety training in workplaces is critical in reducing ionizing radiation risks, as you’ll learn how to protect yourself and others from excessive exposure.

High-risk workplaces such as hospital medical imaging departments are required by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take part in radiation safety training.

Learn More About Ionizing Radiation Today

Now that you know about the effects of ionizing radiation, you can talk to your doctor to learn more about the risks to your health. Also, don’t be afraid to do more research or even sign up for a radiation safety training course.

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