Feb 2017

Biological Effect of Radiation

February 17, 2017


Way before you started junior college, you will have understood the idea that ionizing radiation is bad for the body. However, as you progress with us for physics tuition in Singapore, we will help you properly understand exactly why these damaging processes occur.

Why is radiation bad?

The idea that radiation is only released as a result of fatal events is not exactly true, we are actually surrounded by radiation daily. Even our own bodies produce radiation. There are even food types that contain more radiation, and some common building materials emit higher radiation than others. This is what we term ‘background’ radiation. It’s present at all times and can vary across the earth’s surface and your surroundings. The average annual background radiation exposure for Singaporeans is 310 mSv.

Industry and other man-contributed sources almost double that exposure annually. CT and MRI scans alongside X-ray procedures contribute a lot of this. There are also commercial paints and products that contribute to the list. With this background of radiation all around us, there is little wonder that additional exposure can be a concern for humans.

What are the effects of radiation on the body?

Low levels of exposure to radiation can be repaired by the healing processes of the body. Cells will either heal, die off in normal ways or repair themselves in a manner that makes them malignant or damaging to the body. This severely contributes to the formation of leukemia, breast, bladder and colon cancers, liver, lung and esophagus cancers, stomach cancer and myelomas.

Cancer is not detectable right away. It can take years for the latent period to be detected. High dose of radiation exposure will often kill immediately, or in a very short time [Acute Radiation Syndrome]. Fatal exposure rates between people vary, but 3500-5000 mSv appears to trigger death conditions in over 50% of people. Doses under 100 mSv would appear to change the body at the cellular level and will pass the change many years down the line as congenital defects, cancers and still.

Radiation can cause a multitude of issues on the biology of the body, which is why great steps are taken to reduce the exposure of radiation workers to these damaging side effects. You can learn more real life examples and applications on radiation when you join H2 physics tuition with us.

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