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Ionizing Radiation

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Ionizing radiation has many common uses, but can also be disastrous to human health.

Ionizing radiation carries enough energy to produce ion pairs as it passes through matter. It frees electrons and leaves atoms positively charged and the energy released from this interaction is enough to break bonds in DNA which can lead to cellular damage and Cancer. The four main types of ionizing radiation are Alpha Particles, beta particles (electrons), Gamma Rays, and X-rays.

Chemical Description

Ionizing radiation is the more pernicious form of naturally occurring element. It carries with it enough energy resulting from a higher vibration frequency of the electric and magnetic fields. It has the ability to separate electrons from atoms which produces enough energy to break bond in DNA and do sever cellular damage and cause Cancer.


In general ionizing radiation is produced by Radioactive Decay, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, particle accelerators, and the sun.

There are many sources of Ionizing Radiation. One are the high energy cosmic rays from the outer space as well as Solar Radiation that is normally blocked by the atmosphere. These sources are of concern for frequent air travelers especially those traveling around the poles where Radiation intensity is greater.

Other sources include Gamma Rays generated by nuclear decay, several types of subatomic particles, such as beta radiation and alpha radiation. Medical X-rays rely on Radiation to work as does nuclear radiation which is used in nuclear power plants and to propel certain submarines. These also, despite having positive aspects, pose serious health concerns when ionizing radiation is allowed to escape.


The history of Ionizing Radiation could be looked at as a series of case studies with some being successful breakthroughs (ie. Nuclear Power or the X-ray) and conversely a large amount of devastating incidents occurrences (ie. Chernobyl Accident and increased Cancer rates).

See Radiation history section.

Current Events

Study suggests link between ionizing radiation and heart disease. See full Guardian article.
Tens of gallons of radioactive waste spilled at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. See full Seattle Pi article


Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935
by Claudia Clark, Publisher: University of North Carolina Pr; ISBN: 0807823317; (June 1997). 384 pages.

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