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An Introduction To The Health Effects of Radiation:

An Introduction To The Health Effects of Radiation A Small Dose of ™ Radiation

Ancient Awareness:

The control of fire for warmth and cooking . Ancient Awareness

Historical Awareness:

1895 - Wilhem Conrad Roentgen discovered X-rays and in 1901 he received the first Nobel Prize for physics. 1903 - Marie Curie and Pierre Curie, along with Henri Becquerel were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their contributions to understanding radioactivity, including the properties of uranium. 1942 - Enrico Fermi and others started the first sustained nuclear chain reaction in a laboratory beneath the University of Chicago football stadium. 1945 – Nuclear bombs dropped on Japan. Historical Awareness

Case Study - Sunburn:

Case Study - Sunburn Solar radiation wavelength Visible light – 400 to 760 nm Ultraviolet radiation (UV) - >400 nm (sunburn) Infrared radiation - <760 nm (heat) UV radiation Stimulates melanin (dark pigment) that absorbs UV protecting cells Health Effects 2 to 3 million non-malignant skin cancers 130,000 malignant melanomas Sunburn – acute cell injury causing inflammatory response (erythema) Accelerates aging process

Radium Girls:

Radium Girls "Not to worry," their bosses told them. "If you swallow any radium, it'll make your cheeks rosy.“ The women at Radium Dial sometimes painted their teeth and faces and then turned off the lights for a laugh. From: 'Radium Girls' By Martha Irvine, Associated Press, Buffalo News, 1998

Case Study - Radium:

Case Study - Radium 1898 – Discovered by Marie Curie 1900-1930 – Radium Therapy - used to treat arthritis, stomach ailments and cancer Accepted by American Medical Association WWI – Use of radium on watch dials 1920s – U.S. Radium corporation employed young women to paint watch dials Late 1920s – Radium girls sue, win and receive compensation

Historical Events:

Opium War of 1839-42 Great Britain has a monopoly on the sale of opium which it forces on China. Eventually getting control of Hong Kong. Consider our societies current “wars on drugs”. Historical Events

Life & Radiation:

Life & Radiation All life is dependent on small doses of electromagnetic radiation. For example, photosynthesis and vision use the suns radiation.


Radiation Nonionizing Ultraviolet, visible, infrared, microwaves, radio & TV, power transmission Ionizing Radiation capable for producing ions when interacting with matter – x-rays, alpha, beta, gamma, cosmic rays

Electromagnetic Spectrum:

Electromagnetic Spectrum 10 -14 10 -12 10 -10 10 -8 10 -6 10 -4 10 -2 1 10 2 10 4 10 6 10 8 Wavelength in Meters 10 10 10 8 10 6 10 4 10 2 1 10 -2 10 -4 10 -6 10 -8 10 -10 10 -12 10 -14 Broadcast Short wave TV FM Radar Infrared Near Far Visible Ultraviolet X Rays Gamma Rays Cosmic Rays Power Transmission Ionizing Radiation Nonionizing Radiation Energy - Electron Volts High Low

Nonionizing Radiation:

Nonionizing Radiation Sources Ultraviolet light Visible light Infrared radiation Microwaves Radio & TV Power transmission

Nonionizing Examples:

Nonionizing Examples Ultraviolet – Black light – induce fluorescence in some materials Vision – very small portion that animals use to process visual information Heat – infrared – a little beyond the red spectrum Radio waves – beyond infrared Micro waves Electrical power transmission – 60 cycles per second with a wave length of 1 to 2 million meters.

Ultraviolet - Sources:

Ultraviolet - Sources Sun light Most harmful UV is absorbed by the atmosphere – depends on altitude Fluorescent lamps Electric arc welding Can damage the eye (cornea) Germicidal lamps Eye damage from sun light Skin cancer

Ultraviolet - Effects:

Ultraviolet - Effects High ultraviolet – kills bacterial and other infectious agents High dose causes - sun burn – increased risk of skin cancer Pigmentation that results in suntan Suntan lotions contain chemicals that absorb UV radiation Reaction in the skin to produce Vitamin D that prevents rickets Strongly absorbed by air – thus the danger of hole in the atmosphere

Visible Energy:

Visible Energy Energy between 400 and 750 nm High energy – bright light produces of number of adaptive responses Standards are set for the intensity of light in the work place (measured in candles or lumens)

Infrared Radiation:

Infrared Radiation Energy between 750 nm to 0.3 cm The energy of heat – Heat is the transfer of energy Can damage – cornea, iris, retina and lens of the eye (glass workers – “glass blower’s cataract”)

Microwaves & Radio Waves:

Microwaves & Radio Waves Energy between 0.1 cm to 1 kilometer Varity of industrial and home uses for heating and information transfer (radio, TV, mobile phones) Produced by molecular vibration in solid bodies or crystals Health effects – heating, cataracts Long-term effects being studied

Electrical Power:

Electrical Power Standard in homes and businesses Highest level of exposure from electric-power generation and distribution system (high voltage power lines) Medical system – Magnetic imaging Acute health effects – shock Long-term health effects appear to be few but may some data do suggest adverse effects

Ionizing Radiation:

Ionizing Radiation Ionization Defined Radiation capable for producing ions when interacting with matter – in other words enough energy to remove an electron from an atom. Sources – x-rays, radioactive material produce alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, cosmic rays from the sun and space.

Ionizing Radiation:

Ionizing Radiation Paper Wood Concrete Alpha Beta Gamma Energy Low Medium High

Radioactive Material:

Radioactive Material Either natural or created in nuclear reactor or accelerator Radioactive material is unstable and emits energy in order to return to a more stable state (particles or gamma-rays) Half-life – time for radioactive material to decay by one-half

Alpha Particles:

Alpha Particles Two neutrons and two protons Charge of +2 Emitted from nucleus of radioactive atoms Transfer energy in very short distances (10 cm in air) Shielded by paper or layer of skin Primary hazard from internal exposure Alpha emitters can accumulate in tissue (bone, kidney, liver, lung, spleen) causing local damage

Beta Particles:

Beta Particles Small electrically charged particles similar to electrons Charge of -1 Ejected from nuclei of radioactive atoms Emitted with various kinetic energies Shielded by wood, body penetration 0.2 to 1.3 cm depending on energy Can cause skin burns or be an internal hazard of ingested


Gamma-rays Electromagnetic photons or radiation (identical to x-rays except for source) Emitted from nucleus of radioactive atoms – spontaneous emission Emitted with kinetic energy related to radioactive source Highly penetrating – extensive shielding required Serious external radiation hazard


X-rays Overlap with gamma-rays Electromagnetic photons or radiation Produced from orbiting electrons or free electrons – usually machine produced Produced when electrons strike a target material inside and x-ray tube Emitted with various energies & wavelengths Highly penetrating – extensive shielding required External radiation hazard Discovered in 1895 by Roentgen

Ionizing Radiation Health Effects:

Ionizing Radiation Health Effects We evolved with a certain level of naturally occurring ionizing radiation from cosmic radiation, radioactive materials in the earth. We have mechanisms to repair damage.

Radiation Units:

Radiation Units Exposure – X (coul/kg) (Related to energy) Absorbed Dose – Gray (Gy) (amount of energy absorbed) Equivalent Dose – Sievert (Sv) (makes different sources of radiation equivalent)


Standards US National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) International Council on Radiation Protection (ICRP) Occupational Exposure Guidelines 100 mSv over 5 years (average 20 mSv/year) with a maximum of 50 mSv in any one year General public – back ground about 3 mSv/year – Guideline 1 mSv/year

Dose Response Tissue:

Dose Response Tissue Examples of tissue Sensitivity Very High White blood cells (bone marrow) Intestinal epithelium Reproductive cells High Optic lens epithelium Esophageal epithelium Mucous membranes Medium Brain – Glial cells Lung, kidney, liver, thyroid, pancreatic epithelium Low Mature red blood cells Muscle cells Mature bone and cartilage

Dose Response Issues:

Dose Response Issues Dose (Sv) Effects / organ Time to death Death (%) 1-2 Bone marrow Months 0-10 2-10 Bone marrow Weeks 0-90 10-15 Diarrhea, fever 2 weeks 90-100 >50 Neurological 1- 4 hrs 100


Rate of decay of radioisotope How long it takes to lose half their strength Can range from very short to billions of years Carbon – 5730 years, which makes it valuable for dating Half-life

Reducing Exposure:

Time Reduce the spent near the source of radiation. Distance Increase the distance from the source of radiation. Shielding Place shielding material between you and the source of radiation. Reducing Exposure

Regulatory Status:

Occupational exposure quidlines are 100 mSv in 5 years (average, 20 mSv per year) with a limit of 50 mSv in any single year. General public the standard is 1 mSv per year. (Natural background radiation is approximately 3 mSv/year.) Recommended exposure limits are set by the US National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) and world wide by International Council on Radiation Protection (ICRP). Regulatory Status

A Small Dose of ™ Radiation:

A Small Dose of ™ Radiation

Additional Information:

Additional Information National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements – US EPA (Information about ionizing radiation and contamination) – University of Michigan - Radiation & Health Physics –

Calculate Your Annual Dose:

US EPA What Is Your Annual Radiation Dose? – Calculate your dose Calculate Your Annual Dose

Authorship Information:

Authorship Information For Additional Information Contact Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT E-mail: [email protected] Web: This presentation is supplement to “A Small Dose of Toxicology”