(ORDO NEWS) — The mere mention of the word “radiation” often causes fear in people. It’s funny for others to think that a little exposure to radiation could turn you into the next superhero like the Hulk.
But is it true that everything around us is radioactive, even the food we eat?
You may have heard that bananas are slightly radioactive, but what does that really mean? And despite the fact that we are not superheroes, human bodies are also radioactive?
What is radiation?
Radiation is energy that travels from one point to another in the form of waves or particles. We are daily exposed to radiation from various natural and man-made sources.
Cosmic radiation from the sun and space, radiation from rocks and soil, as well as radioactivity in the air we breathe and in our food and water, are sources of natural radiation.
Bananas are a common example of a natural source of radiation. They contain a large amount of potassium, and a small amount of it is radioactive.
But there is no need to give up a banana smoothie – the amount of radiation is extremely small and much less than the natural “background radiation” that we are exposed to every day.
Man-made sources of radiation include medical procedures. and x-rays, mobile phones and power lines. There is a common misconception that artificial sources of radiation are more dangerous than natural radiation. However, this is not quite true.
There are no physical properties that distinguish artificial radiation from natural radiation or make it more destructive. Harmful effects are related to the dose, not the source of exposure.
What is the difference between radiation and radioactivity?
The words “radiation” and “radioactivity” are often used interchangeably. Although the two concepts are related, they are not exactly the same.
Radioactivity refers to an unstable atom undergoing radioactive decay. Energy is released as radiation when an atom tries to achieve stability or become non-radioactive.
The radioactivity of a material describes the rate at which it decays and the process(es) by which it decays. Thus, radioactivity can be seen as the process by which elements and materials try to become stable, and radiation as the energy released as a result of this process.
Ionizing and non-ionizing radiation
Depending on the energy level, radiation can be divided into two types.
Ionizing radiation has enough energy to remove an electron from an atom, which can change the chemical composition of the material. Examples of ionizing radiation include X-rays and radon (a radioactive gas found in rocks and soil).
Non-ionizing radiation has less energy, but can still excite molecules and atoms, making them vibrate faster.
Common sources of non-ionizing radiation are mobile phones, power lines, and ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.
Is any radiation dangerous? Not really
Radiation is not always dangerous – it depends on the type, strength and duration of exposure.
Generally, the higher the energy level of the radiation, the more likely it is to cause harm. For example, we know that overexposure to ionizing radiation, such as natural gas radon, can damage human tissue and DNA.
We also know that non- ionizing radiation, such as the Sun’s UV rays, can be harmful if a person is exposed to high enough levels of intensity to cause adverse health effects such as burns, cancer, or blindness.
Importantly, since these dangers are well known and understood, they can be protected from. International and national expert bodies provide recommendations for ensuring the safety and radiation protection of people and the environment.
For ionizing radiation, this means keeping doses above natural background radiation as low as reasonably achievable for example, only using medical images on the desired body part, keeping the dose low, and keeping copies of the images to avoid re-examinations.
For non-ionizing radiation, this means keeping exposure below safe limits. For example, telecommunications equipment uses radio frequency non-ionizing radiation and must operate within these safety limits.
In addition, in the case of UV radiation from the sun, we know that sunscreen and clothing are used to protect against exposure when levels reach 3 and above on the UV index.
Radiation in medicine
Despite the clear risks associated with radiation exposure, it is also important to recognize the benefits. One common example of this is the use of radiation in modern medicine.
Medical imaging uses ionizing radiation techniques such as x-rays and computed tomography, as well as non-ionizing radiation techniques such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
These medical imaging techniques allow doctors to see what’s going on inside the body and often allow for an earlier and less invasive diagnosis. Medical imaging can also help rule out a serious medical condition.
Radiation exposure can also help treat certain conditions: it can kill cancerous tissue, shrink a tumor, or even reduce pain.
So our bodies are also radioactive? Answer: Yes, like everyone around us, we are also slightly radioactive. But we have nothing to worry about.
Our bodies are built to handle small amounts of radiation, so there is no danger from the doses we are exposed to in our normal daily lives.
Just don’t expect this radiation to turn you into a superhero anytime soon because it’s definitely science fiction.
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