Read on to know more about the various types, sources, and symptoms of radiation poisoning, and the methods of preventing radiation…
Radiation Sickness or Radiation Poisoning is defined as the damage to the organ tissues due to the excessive exposure to ionizing radiation. The exposure to radiation interferes with the process of cell division.
There are two types of radiation poisoning:
- Acute Radiation Syndrome: This is caused by a short term exposure to radiation.
- Chronic Radiation Syndrome: This is caused by a long term exposure to radiation.
Radiation can also be External Radiation and Internal Radiation. External Radiation happens when the source of radiation is outside the exposed body, while Internal Radiation occurs when the source of radiation is present inside the exposed body.
An example of external radiation is when a space traveler gets exposed to cosmic rays. An example of internal radiation is when a human consumes radioactive cow’s milk.
- Nuclear warfare is among the primary sources of radiation poisoning. Heat radiation from nuclear war causes thermal burns. The fallout from a nuclear explosion can cause Beta Burns. The Gamma Rays from a nuclear explosion cause gamma radiation. The gamma radiation is the most harmful of all the effects of a nuclear explosion.
- Nuclear reactors are also another cause of radiation sickness. Accidents in nuclear reactors and accidental exposure to radioactive material can often cause radiation sickness among the workers in nuclear reactors.
- Improper handling or disposal of radioactive material and devices can also lead to radiation poisoning.
- Gamma rays are more penetrating as compared to the alpha and beta particles. When these gamma rays penetrate the human body, one can see the symptoms of such poisoning. This is called gamma radiation.
- Decrease in the number of red blood cells.
- Decrease in immunity cells or white blood cells.
- Sterility in males as well as in females.
- Uncontrollable bleeding in the mouth, under the skin and in the kidneys.
- Destruction of bone marrow cells.
- Damage of Gastric and Intestinal Tissue. Intestinal Bleeding.
- Massive Diarrhea and loss of water.
The death caused by radiation poisoning is often quite painful. At present, there is no cure for radiation sickness. The only treatment available is for relieving the pain of the patient.
The only way to prevent radiation is to reduce the dose of the radiation that the human being is exposed to.
Methods of Radiation Protection
Reducing the Time of Radiation
The longer a person is exposed to the radiation, greater is the risk of radiation sickness. Thus, it is in the best interest to reduce the time frame of radiation exposure of the human being.
Increasing the Distance from the Radioactive substance
The more a human being is kept away from the radioactive substance, the risk of exposure is reduced that much. If the distance is doubled, the rate of exposure is quartered. Hence, workers in highly radioactive areas are advised to pick up radioactive materials with a pair of tongs.
People working with radioactive materials always wear protective clothing. Apart from that, it is also said that radiation can be reduced by placing a layer of material between the source of radiation and the human being can also reduce the amount of exposure. The material, however, must be such that it absorbs the radiation. This is why nuclear fallout shelters have been constructed out of thick stone blocks.
However, all radiation is not bad. It has found its use in cancer prevention. Radiation therapy is used for the treatment of cancer patients because radiation is known to prevent cell division. Cancer cells are the fastest dividing cells in the body and therefore cancer radiation therapy is helpful in preventing the growth and spread of cancer cells in the human body.