Let’s talk about radiation! While it is known as a common treatment for cancer, radiation doesn’t just come from X-rays or radiation therapy, it is also found in everyday sources like microwaves, cell phones and electrical power lines. Exposure to excessive amounts of radiation can cause acute and serious health effects. Let’s take a look at various sources of radiation and just how much damage it can cause to our health.
Simply put, radiation is energy. It travels in the form of energy waves and high-speed particles. The sun, soil, rocks and even humans produce low levels of radiation naturally, but man-made radiation is also very common as it is found in cell phones, microwaves, x-rays and more.
Large Exposure Risks
While we are naturally exposed to low levels of radiation every day, it is the amount of exposure to radiation that can cause serious health problems. Too much radiation can damage tissues inside our bodies and cause serious health problems, including cancer. If you are exposed to a large amount of radiation over a short period of time, you may experience skin burns, nausea and vomiting, and in some cases, you can result in death over the following days or weeks. However, to reach that level of radiation exposure in a short time span, you would have to be involved in an extreme event like a nuclear explosion or getting tens of thousands of x-rays over your body within an hour or less.
Low-Level Radiation Risks
Low-level radiation from cell-phones, x-rays, powerlines and more do not cause immediate health effects, but do contribute to a small increase in the risk of cancer over time. Studies have shown that the higher the dose of radiation the greater the risk, and the lower the dose, the lower the risk.
Effects of Radiation
As mentioned previously, radiation can lead to nausea and vomiting, and possibly even cancer or death. Other effects may include hair loss, killing of brain and nerve cells, and damages to your thyroid. Similarly, intense exposure to radioactive material can do immediate damage to small blood vessels and cause heart failure.
How to Prevent or Limit Radiation Exposure
While radiation does surround us, we can certainly prevent the amount of exposure we get throughout our lives. For everyday uses, such as a cell phone, you can reduce how much time you spend on it. If you are using the phone, try not to put it up against your head. When able, use the speaker mode to increase the distance between your head and the phone. In your home, you can get the radon levels tested and get a radon reduction system if needed. If you are seeking medical attention where the health care provider recommends a test using radiation, you can ask about the risks and benefits of the test. In some cases, alternative options can be taken, or you can at least find a test that contains monitors and techniques that reduces the dose of radiation you are receiving. Lastly, if you are ever in a radiation emergency, take shelter. Stay inside with all doors and windows shut until you hear further instruction or advice from emergency responders or officials.