Hazards Of Radiation

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Old 02-Jul-2010
Hazards Of Radiation

We all speak about radiation and its mal-effects on the human body. However, have we ever pondered upon the fact what exactly radiation is and what its hazardous effects can be? Radiation is the energy transmitted through space in the form of electromagnetic waves or one can say energy particles. The electromagnetic radiation can be classified into two categories, the ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. This classification of radiation is based on the fact whether or not it is capable of ionizing atoms and breaking chemical bonds. Ultraviolet rays and higher frequencies like the x-rays or the gamma rays are ionizing and harmful for the human body, posing their own hazards. The non-ionizing radiations are also hazardous in their own ways and lead to two major harmful effects—the electrical and the biological hazards. This article provides you with the relation between the harmful radiation and health of a person.

Dangers Of Exposure To Radiation
  • The hovering and vibrating electric and magnetic fields in the electromagnetic radiation induce electric current into any conductor that come in the way. Strong radiations are capable of hastening current, giving an electric shock to any person or animal. A radiation is also capable of overloading and destroying electrical equipments. The induction of current by oscillating magnetic field is the way which the solar storm uses, to disrupt the functioning of electrical items and cause damage to the power distribution transformers. It also interferes in the electromagnetic signals.
  • The strong electromagnetic radiation is also capable of causing electric currents strong enough to create sparks, in case the induced voltage exceeds the breakdown voltage of the median around for e.g. air. These sparks caused by electromagnetic radiation can also ignite flammable gases, which can lead to some kind of an explosion. These flammable gases that get produced are dangerous, if there are explosives or fireworks around, since an electric overload can ignite them, leading to explosion. This risk of explosion is referred to as HERO (Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance). There is also a risk of fueling involved due to the electromagnetic radiation. This risk related to fueling is called HERF (Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Fuel).
  • The most hazardous biological effect of electromagnetic radiation is that it causes dielectric heating. One example of this effect of electromagnetic radiation is the burns caused when one stands in front of an antenna when a high power transmission is in force.
  • The heating effect varies with the power and the frequency of electromagnetic energy. One of the measures of the heating effect is the Specific Absorption Rate, which is defined by the unit of watts per kilogram. There are various publications that prove the existence of complex biological effect of weaker non-thermal electromagnetic fields, which also includes ELF magnetic fields, and modulated RF and microwave fields.
  • There was a study conducted at the University of Basel in Switzerland that found that a sporadic exposure of human cells to the electromagnetic field can lead to a slight, but significant increase in the fragmentation of DNA. The x-rays and the gamma-rays transmitted by the radioactive radiation causes ionization of atoms and molecules inside our cells, leaving behind certain free radicals. These free radicals can even react with the DNA molecules in our body that provides instruction to our cells. This molecular reaction can lead to a scrambling effect on the instructions provided by DNA molecule to our cells.
Effect Of Radiation On The DNA
  • The cell containing the defective DNA might not be able to reproduce itself. It will be able to survive its lifetime, but once the cell is dead there will be no alternative cell to replace the emptiness created by the loss of one cell.
  • The radiation can also happen to misguide the gamete destined to fusion with a membrane of opposite sex. It might send false instructions and can hamper the normal growth of the gamete. However, it is impossible for radiation to alter retroactively any individual’s genetic makeup.
  • The damage caused to the DNA molecule because of radiation can also make the damaged DNA molecule to instruct all its neighbors to reproduce as many copies of itself as possible. The offspring preserve the mandate, and a chain reaction takes place that "crashes the system." This reproductive zeal of the misguided cell is called as cancer and it is the worst hazard that a radiation exposure can cause. Any exposure to the ionizing radiation of the human body leads to increased risk of cancer.

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