Posts Tagged ‘environmental’
Effects on the Human Body
Radiation can be briefly defined as energy that is emitted from the energy source in rays or waves, or in particles from radioactive substances. Human beings are exposed to radiation all the time, from the atmosphere, from electronic devices like televisions, microwaves, radios, cell phones, and computers, and every time we have an X-ray performed in a hospital or medical office. Radiation cannot be avoided completely and conventional wisdom says that the levels of radiation human beings are exposed to are generally not high enough to cause serious illness. But there can be long-term consequences to exposure to radiation, either from one acute single dose or from constant smaller doses over time. This article will define and discuss the consequences of environmental, medical, and nuclear radiation for the health of the human body.
Environmental radiation comes from many sources. Most people on earth are exposed to very small amounts of radiation from outer space. Sunburn is a form of skin injury caused by prolonged exposure or overexposure of the skin to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. As most people know, serious sunburns can often lead to skin cancer later on. In addition to cosmic radiation, human beings can be exposed to radiation caused by the decay of various radioactive materials here on earth, like uranium and plutonium. These materials are present in the earth’s crust, and when they decompose, they can leave very dangerous radon in their wake. Radon can seep into houses, is usually found in basements, and can cause cancer to the inhabitants of the house after prolonged exposure.
Nearly every homeowner has encountered the term “radon” either during the selling or purchasing process. Homeowners have good reason to be aware of the potential presence of radon in their home, to test radon levels, and install radon ventilation systems if the radon levels are high. Many prospective home-buyers, however, choose to forgo radon testing prior to purchasing their new home, because they are uneducated or misinformed regarding what radon is and the detrimental long-term effects it can have on the health and vitality of their families.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally-occurring, colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is highly radioactive and extremely dense (nine times more dense than air!). It was discovered in 1899-1900 by two European physicists, Ernest Rutherford and Friedrich Ernst Dorn. Although there are many forms of radon, Radon-222 is the type that occurs most frequently in the environment.
Radon can be highly concentrated in groundwater and in the ground under where a building is constructed; the ingestion of this contaminated water, and the inhalation of the radon particles released from this water, are the two primary ways in which people are exposed to this radioactive substance. As radon decays, the particles attach to microscopic airborne materials, like dust, which facilitates its inhalation by humans.