WHAT is Radiation?
Radiation is the emission/transmission of energy as waves or particles through space or through a material medium. Radiation is named after the phenomenon of waves radiating (AKA traveling outward in all directions) from a source.
Types of radiation include:
- Electromagnetic radiation: Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma radiation
- Particle radiation: Alpha radiation, beta radiation, proton radiation and neutron radiation
- Acoustic radiation: Ultrasound, sound, and seismic waves
- Gravitational radiation: Gravitational waves, or ripples in the curvature of spacetime
Radiation is often categorized as either ionizing OR non-ionizing.
WHAT is Ionizating radiation?
Ionizing radiation: carries more than 10 eV (electronvolts), which is enough to ionize atoms/molecules and break chemical bonds, which is what makes them harmful.
Ionize: The breaking of one (or more) electrons away from an atom, an action that requires the relatively high energies that these electromagnetic waves supply.
A common source of ionizing radiation is radioactive materials that emit alpha, beta, or gamma radiation, consisting of helium nuclei, electrons or positrons, and photons, respectively. Also X-rays from medical radiography examinations!
Gamma rays, X-rays and the higher energy range of UV light constitute the ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum, whereas the lower energy UV, visible light, nearly all types of laser light, infrared, microwaves, and radio waves are non-ionizing radiation.
Non-ionizing lower energies of the lower UV spectrum CANNOT ionize atoms, but can disrupt the inter-atomic bonds which form molecules + break down MOLECULES rather than atoms. (E.G sunburn caused by long-wavelength solar UV).
Ionizing radiation is not immediately detectable by human senses, so instruments such as Geiger counters are used to detect and measure it. However, very high energy particles can produce visible effects on both organic and inorganic matter (e.g. water lighting in Cherenkov radiation) or humans (e.g. acute radiation syndrome). It is used in a wide variety of fields safely, but it can become dangerous if proper measures against excessive exposure are not taken.
It first appeared in 1946 at the University of California, originally in magenta with a blue background
- It signifies an atom (the small circle) emitting ratiation
- Magenta was cheap at the time + less likely to be used on other signs
- Blue background became more popular on signs + the colour fades, so it was changed to yellow
- Used to signify actual or potential presence of ionizing radiation, NOT non-ionizing
Acute Radiation Sickness (ARS) vs Chronic radiation disease (ChRD)
- ARS = EXTREME exposure, SHORT period of time.
- ChRD = HIGH exposure, LONG period of time.
- ChRD involves several health effects occuring after months/years of chronic exposure.
- ChRD is primarily known from the Kyshtym disaster (the 3rd WORST nuclear incident) where 66 cases were diagnosed.
WHAT is radiation poisoning?
Radiation poisoning, also known as acute radiation sickness (ARS), are the collection of health effects caused by exposure to HIGH amounts of ionizing radiation in a SHORT period of time.
Symptoms can start within an hour of exposure, and the early symptoms are usually nausea, vomiting, + loss of appetite. After hours/weeks the initial symptoms may appear to improve before additional symptoms developed. After the additional symptoms, the patient either recovers or dies.
ARS involves a total dose of greater than 0.7 Gy (70 rad) delivered within a few minutes. There are 3 main types: bone marrow (hematopoietic), gastrointestinal, and neurovascular. The speed of symptom onset is related to the level of radiation exposure.
The cells that are most affected are generally those that are rapidly dividing (remember that ionizing radiation ionizes atoms/molecules + break chemical bonds!).
At high doses, the damage may be irreparable. Repeated complete blood counts (CBCs) can indicate the severity of exposure
Treatment may include blood transfusions, antibiotics, colony-stimulating factors, or stem cell transplant. Radioactive material remaining on the skin or in the stomach should be removed. If radioiodine was inhaled or ingested, potassium iodide is recommended.
Any cancers that develop later are managed as usual. Short term outcomes depend on the dose exposure
Acute Radiation Sickness Cont.
Early symptoms of ARS typically include nausea/vomiting, headaches, fatigue, fever, and a short period of skin reddening. These symptoms may occur at radiation doses as low as 0.35 Gy. These symptoms are common to many illnesses, and may not (by themselves) indicate acute radiation sickness.
- Hematopoietic (0.7 to 10 Gy) - Marked by a drop in the number of blood cells (aplastic anemia) which may result in infections (due to a low number of white blood cells), bleeding (due to a lack of platelets), + anemia, (due to too few red blood cells in circulation). These changes can be detected by blood tests after receiving a whole-body acute dose as low as 0.25 grays (25 rad), though they might never be felt by the patient if the dose is below 1 gray (100 rad). Conventional trauma and burns resulting from a bomb blast are complicated by the poor wound healing caused by hematopoietic syndrome, increasing mortality.
- Gastrointestinal (6 to 30 Gy) - Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Vomiting in this time frame is a marker for whole body exposures that are in the fatal range above 4 grays. Without exotic treatment such as bone marrow transplant, death with this dose is common (due generally more to infection than gastrointestinal dysfunction).
- Neurovascular (10 to 30+ Gy) - Symptoms include dizziness, headache, or decreased level of consciousness, occurring within minutes to a few hours, with an ABSENSE of vomiting. Almost always fatal, even with aggressive intensive care.
WHY do i love Radiation?
As mentioned on the biohazard page, an invisible source of illness and death is so fascinating to me. Unlike some biohazards, ionizing radiation can't be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or felt... This is because there's no evolutionary advantage to detecting it.
While it's incredibly unlikely to experience things such as Acute Radiation Sickness, the case studies and research done on individuals who have experienced it have truly shocked me to the core.
We experience radiation damage from UV rays every single day, but because we can't detect UV rays it can be easy to forget that we face radiation head on every time we walk outside...
Essentially, I love radiation because it's an undetectable, powerful force that we have harnessed for war, for electrical power, and for medical purposes. the real question is... how can you NOT love radiation?
GAMES (I LIKE) WITH RADIOACTIVE ELEMENTS
- Fallout series (Especially Fallout 3):
- LISA: The Painful:
- Half-Life 2: