Saturday, December 15, 2012

Radiation hazards, dangers, and effects on human

As a result of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that happened on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was severely damaged which led to the release of radioactive materials.

The radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan is a real shocker and wake up call all around the world. As we see the news everyday, people all over the world are now extremely aware and scared of the effects of radioactive materials.

The main hazard of radiation is exposure. Radiation can also be acquired through ingestion, inhalation, and injection. In Japan people were alarmed of contaminated food and products. The whole world fears of food products coming from Japan. Up to 400 mSv of radiation was detected. The table below lists comparable radiation amounts ( units are in millisievert, mSv ) acquired by humans.

30,000 mSv -- death within 2 to 3 weeks
10,000 mSv -- fatal/lethal dose
5,000 mSv --- extremely severe radiation dose
2,000 mSv --- radiation poisoning, nausea, vomiting
1,000 mSv --- radiation sickness
100 mSv ----- annual dose for cancer risks
36 mSv ------ cigarrete smoking 1 1/2 packs per day
10 mSv ------ radiation from a CT Scan
3 mSv ------- radiation from Mammogram test
1.5 mSv ----- radiation from Spinal X-ray
0.1 mSv ----- radiation form Chest X-ray

What is radiation?

Radiation is energy coming from a radioactive material and has the ability to travel through space and even penetrate materials or even our bodies. Radiation from the sun is an example.

What is ionization?

Ionization is the process of creating electrical charges in atoms or molecules. An ion is an atom or molecule that has a positive or negative electrical charge.

Two types of radiation

1. Ionizing radiation
2. Non-ionizing radiation

Ionizing radiation can create electrical charges and has enough energy to break the bond between the electrons and the nucleus of the atom.
Non-ionizing radiation cannot create electrical charges and does not have enough energy to break the bond between the electrons and the nucleus of the atom. Radio waves, microwaves, and visible light are examples.

Types of ionizing radiation

1. Alpha particles = travel only up to 3 inches or less in the air and cannot penetrate the skin.
2. Beta particles = travel up to 10 meters in the air and penetrates most solid objects.
3. Gamma rays = travel in the air for hundreds of meters. A good protection from gamma rays is a thick wall of steel.
4. Neutron rays = travel in the air for thousands of meters and have the capacity to make other materials radioactive. A good protection from neutron rays is a thick wall of concrete shield.

Hazards and dangers from ionizing radiation

Ionizing radiation is harmful to our body because once they are absorbed and accumulated into our system, they can alter our cells, change our cell functions, damage tissues, even worst is leading to cancer, and eventually death.
Alpha particles are dangerous if swallowed or ingested into our bodies. Beta particles cause burns and harmful if swallowed or ingested into our body. Gamma rays and neutron rays are extremely dangerous if we are exposed externally to them.
Any excessive exposure to high amounts and levels of radiation will result to radiation sickness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, lesions, organ damage, mental retardation in infants, cancer, death, and many more unthinkable disastrous effects...

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