The term radiation refers to energy that travels through space or matter in the form of energetic waves or particles. When radiation occurs, the waves move out in all directions from the producer of the energy. Radiation can be ionizing, which means it has the capacity to modify the ions of an atom, or non-ionizing, in which it does not possess that ability.
Examples of Everyday Radiation
- Visible light
- Infrared light
- Near ultraviolet light
- Low frequency waves
- Radio waves
- Waves produced by mobile phones
- A campfire's heat
- Thermal radiation
- Extremely low frequency waves (3 – 30 Hz)
- Very low frequency waves (3-30 kHz)
- Power lines
- Strong magnets
- Light bulbs
- Light from the sun
- Remote controls
- Cordless phones
- Radio-frequency radiation such as televisions, FM and AM radio
- Shortwave and CB's
- Computer screens
- Infrared lamps use to maintain food temperature in restaurants
- Ultraviolet light
- Radioactive decay's particles
- Cosmic rays
- Alpha rays
- Beta rays
- Medical imaging equipment
- Ionization of food
- Sterilization of medical tools
- Nuclear power production
- Metal mining can result in exposure to ionizing radiation
- Coal mining and power production from coal
- Nuclear weapons
- Galactic Cosmic Radiation (to which astronauts are exposed)
- Solar Particle Event radiation (to which astronauts may be exposed)
- Natural background radiation
- Radiation therapy for specific forms of cancer
- CT scans
- Nuclear medical scans
- Airport security scanners (in extremely high usage)
Out of the two types of radiation (Ionizing and Non-ionizing), ionizing is most harmful to living things; though, there can be harmful types of non-ionizing radiation as well.
Types of Radiation
There are three types of ionizing radiation as classified by scientists based on how hard it is to stop the waves or particles"
- Alpha radiation is the easiest to stop as it can be stopped by paper.
- Beta radiation is a bit more difficult to stop and requires metal to stop it, though the metal can be thin.
- Gamma radiation is most powerful and dangerous and can only be stopped by many feet of earth, water of great depth, or metal of intense thickness.
Radiation Effect on Humans
Affects of ionizing radiation on humans can include cancer, sickness of varying types, death, and mutation. These are as a result of the change in DNA that ionizing radiation can cause. Those exposed to lower levels of radiation (such as non-ionizing) are unlikely to develop any adverse affects.
Ionizing radiation is created by a reaction of a nuclear form that is either natural or artificial. It is often hard to measure since it is invisible and can usually only be measured at very high concentrations. A Geiger counter is an example of a tool for measuring ionizing radiation.
Radiation is an everyday phenomenon as you can see from the above examples and information.