Radiation Exposure (Encyclopedia of Science)
The term radiation exposure refers to any occasion on which a human or other animal or a plant has been placed in the presence of radiation from a radioactive source. For example, scientists have learned that the radioactive element radon is present in the basements of some homes and office buildings. Radon gas gives off radiation that can cause damage to human cells. Anyone living in a home or working in an office where radon is present runs some risk of being exposed to the radiation from this element.
The term radiation itself refers both to high speed subatomic particles, such as streams of alpha particles or beta particles, and to electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation is a type of energy that travels in waves and includes such forms as X rays, gamma rays, ultraviolet radiation, infrared radiation, and visible light. Concerns about radiation exposure are, however, limited almost exclusively to effects caused by radiation emitted by radioactive materials: alpha and beta particles and gamma rays.
Sources of radiation
Radiation comes from both natural and human sources. Many elements exist in one or more radioactive forms. The most common of these is an isotope known as potassium 40. Isotopes are forms of an element that differ from each other in the structure of their nuclei. Other radioactive isotopes found in nature include...
(The entire section is 1277 words.)
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