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The Health Risks Associated with Ionizing Radiation Essay Example

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The Health Risks Associated with Ionizing Radiation

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The Health Risks Associated with Ionizing Radiation. The researcher states that ionizing radiation causes damage to cells and tissues by the production of free radicals that in general are known to set a chain of reactions in the body. If the free radicals are generated at the nucleus of the cell, DNA is damaged. It is also possible that ionizing radiation may damage DNA molecules by ionizing them or breaking DNA molecules. As a result of radiation exposure it is possible that the damage caused to the tissues especially in the form of mutation, can lead to radiation sickness, cancer, and even death. Further, if the dose is high enough the electrons that are released with negative charge and the ions with positive charge are capable of tissue damage and may result in radiation poisoning.

When the radiation dose is less it may result in cancer or additional long-term problems. All of us are exposed to very low doses of radiations in normal circumstances particularly from the natural and artificial sources, such as cosmic rays, medical X-rays and nuclear power plants. However, the impact of these radiations is a subject of contemporary debate. According to a report released by the U.S. National Research Council (BEIR VII report) the overall cancer risk associated with background sources of radiation was relatively low. There are also arguments that suggest that low-level doses of ionizing radiation are favorable, as they are responsible for stimulating the immune system and self-repair mechanisms of cells and this theory is called “radiation hormesis”. The radioactive materials that are used in producing the ionization radiation, release α particles from the nuclei of helium, β particles that are rapidly moving electrons or positrons, or gamma rays. It is possible to easily protect us from α and β particles with the help of a sheet of paper or aluminum foil respectively. If α and β particles are released inside the body, the possibility of damage or radiation poisoning is high. However, gamma rays are comparatively less ionizing but require thicker shielding for protection. The Health Risks Associated with Ionizing Radiation.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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UNSCEAR. 2008. Sources and effects of ionizing radiation: In UNSCEAR 2008 Report to the General Assembly, with Scientific Annexes. (UNITED NATIONS SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE ON THE EFFECTS OF ATOMIC RADIATION). New York: United Nations.

WHO. 2011. What is Ionizing Radiation? <http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/about/what_is_ir/en/index.html#> (18 May, 2011).

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