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Name Instructor Course Date Radiation and its Biological Effects Abstract Radiation is energy that travels in the form of high-speed particles or waves. It may either occur naturally in sunlight as well as sound waves, or may be man-made. Some forms of radiation are useful for instance in X-rays and in the treatment of cancer, killing of unwanted pathogens or peering into the body…
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Download file to see previous pages This paper discusses radiation and it narrows down to the biological effects of radiation. Introduction When a nucleus of an atom emits high-energy photons and particles such as gamma rays, this kind of radiation is referred to as nuclear radiation. X-rays behave in a similar way as they do gamma rays, although unlike gamma rays, they do not involve the nucleus. For this reason, in describing nuclear radiation and x-rays, the term ionizing radiation is used. While non-ionizing radiation is vital to life, excessive exposures cause tissue damage. All ionizing radiation forms have adequate energy to ionize atoms that may in return destabilize molecules within cells ensuing into tissue damage (Francis & Kirkpatrick, 538). Although radiation is useful biologically as aforementioned, for instance in the treatment of cancer due to its ability to destroy cancerous tissues, exposure of human tissue to higher energies associated with nuclear radiation has adverse biological effects – it causes severe damage to the tissues (McCall, 213). Whenever any radiation passes through a matter, it deposits energy along its path, which leads to ionization, increased temperatures, and atomic excitations. The ionization that radiation passing through living tissue causes can lead to the damage of organic molecules if the electrons are involved in molecular binding. In the event that there is the destruction of too many molecules in this manner or in the event that there is the damaging of DNA molecules, cells may either become cancerous or die (Francis & Kirkpatrick, 538). In addition to cancer induction, other biological effects include changes in the central nervous system, heritable effects, formation of cataract and early effects on body organs as well as their function (National Research Council Staff, 2). Deliberate exposure of living tissues to radiation therefore is something to be avoided unless it is utterly necessary. In fact, the World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering 2009 documents that extreme care is not an option whenever radiation is used and the advantages of using radiation must always be greater than harm and risk from it (111). Radiations that are associated with nuclear explosions include gamma rays, neutrons, and to a much lesser extent, beta particles. During an explosion, most of the gammas and all the neutrons are essentially generated in fusion and fission reactions. The capture of neutrons in the surrounding air, water or earth as well as in the explosion-weapon debris generates additional gamma rays in addition to a large array of radioisotopes, which comprise the radioactive fallout. Normally, both gamma rays and neutrons are strongly absorbed all over the body thereby affecting all organs (Hafemeister, 5). Francis & Kirkpatrick point out that radiation’s outcome on people’s health is dependent on the amount of radiation that living tissue absorbs as well as the biological impacts linked with this absorption (538). To explain further, radiation’s harmful biological effects are attributable to destructive ionization generated within an exposed organism’s cell bodies. In animal tissues, both neutrons and gamma rays’ mean free paths are in the order of twenty centimeters, which is the range that inflicts maximum damage to the organism. In the event tha ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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