Free Effects Of Ionizing Radiation On Humans Research Paper Sample

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Radiation, Atomic Bomb, Nuclear Weapon, Disaster, Ionizing Radiation, Exposure, Risk, Skin

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2021/02/28

Introduction: Ionizing radiation

The term ionizing radiation refers to the type of energy that atoms release, and it is usually in the form of electromagnetic waves/particles (WHO, 2012). Naturally, humans have the exposure to ionizing radiation through sources such as soil, water, and plants. However, there are man-made sources of ionizing radiation, for example, x-rays and other devices used in medicine. Since ionizing radiation has a lot of potential benefits on humans, e.g. its application in medicine, its use increases. Sadly, however, as the use of ionizing radiation increases, the human exposure to the risks of the radiation increases. The negative effects of ionizing radiation include skin-burns, destruction of internal organs, and acute radiation syndrome. The effects occur when excess amounts of ionizing radiations are applied in medicine. Under-application of ionizing radiation (low doses) increases the risk for long-term effects, e.g. cancer (WHO, 2012).
One of the major terms that are important to understand when studying the effects of ionizing radiation is Sievert (Sv). Sv is a unit for measuring the potential harm of ionizing radiation. Sv considers the kind of radiation and the sensitivity of the organ exposed to the radiation. However, Mili-sievert (mSv) is a smaller unit that measures the harm of ionizing radiation more accurately than Sv.

Effects of Ionizing Radiation

The effects of ionizing radiation fall in two categories: the stochastic and non-stochastic health effects. Non-stochastic effects, according to Goodman (2010) occur when the acceptable level of exposure to the radiation is exceeded. This means that as the level of exposure to ionizing radiation, the severity of the effects also increases (Goodman, 2010). When the exposure is beyond the limit, cell destruction and death are the effects. Non-stochastic effect can be controlled by controlling the dose of the radiation below the maximum. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War is an example of an exposure that was beyond the dose limits. The negative health effects of such exposure include: Erythema on the skin, cataract, sterility, radiation sickness, and fetal death (Goodman, 2010). Erythema occurs when the Sv level exceeds 2 within a period of 1 to 24 hours. However, if the skin is exposed to ionizing radiation for 2 weeks, Erythema happens when the Sv level exceeds 15. Goodman explains that Erythema is the breakdown of the skin. Cataract is a condition where there is accumulation of dead cells in the skin and the cells cannot be removed naturally. Sterility occurs when the ionizing radiation impairs the oocyte function, causing infertility. Radiation sickness, which is usually marked by symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, occurs when the effect of the ionizing radiation reaches the bone marrow and the CNS. Fetal death occurs when pregnant women are exposed to the ionizing radiations. However, the risk of fetal death depends on the gestational stage of the fetus at the time of the exposure.
The non-stochastic effects do not depend on exposure to the ionizing radiations. Instead, they are the effects of the ionizing radiations’ symmetrical translocations that occur during cell division (Goodman, 2010). Goodman uses the data from the Radiation Effects Research Foundation to show the relationship between cancer and ionizing radiations. According to the data, research on the individuals or victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s atomic bombing shows that their risk of exposure to cancer increased because of their exposure to the ionizing radiations. The risk of cancer increases when Sv levels of radiation increase 5%. In addition, CT scans that use ionizing radiations that exceed 10 mSv increase the risk of cancer at the rate of 1:1000 (Goodman, 2010).
DNA effects or defects also arise from ionizing radiations. The patients who were exposed to radiant effect of the bombing in Japan and Chernobyl showed the effects of the radiations on their DNA, particularly, through the increase in their risk of contracting Down syndrome. For every Sv exposure according to Goodman (2010), there is increase in the risk of Down syndrome by between 0.3 and 0.8%. The risk of Down’s syndrome on the genetic make-up, relative to the genetic defects, therefore, depends on the Sv levels of exposure.


Goodman, T.R. (2010). Ionizing Radiation Effects and their Risk to Humans. New Haven: Yale
World Health Organization- WHO. (November, 2012). Ionizing Radiations, Heath Effects, and
Protective Measures. Retrieved on April 17, 2015 from

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