nuclear radiation insanity
The units used to
measure ionizing radiation are
rather complex. The ionizing effects of radiation are measured by units of
exposure:The coulomb per kilogram (C/kg) is the SI unit of ionizing radiation
exposure, and measures the amount of radiation required to create 1 coulomb of
charge of each polarity in 1 kilogram of matter.The roentgen (R) is an older
traditional unit that is almost out of use, which represented the amount of
radiation required to liberate 1 esu of charge of each polarity in 1 cubic
centimeter of dry air. 1 Roentgen = 2.58×10-4 C/kg.However, the amount of
damage done to matter (especially living tissue) by ionizing radiation is more
closely related to the amount of energy deposited rather than the charge. This
is called the absorbed dose.The gray (Gy), with units J/kg, is the SI unit of
absorbed dose, which represents the amount of radiation required to deposit 1
joule of energy in 1 kilogram of any kind of matter.The rad (Roentgen absorbed
dose), is the corresponding traditional unit which is 0.01 J deposited per kg.
100 rad = 1 Gy.
Herman Joseph Muller, Nobel Prize Medicine,
Herman Joseph Muller, an American scientist,
concluded from his investigations that low dose exposure, and therefore even
natural background radiation, is mutagenic and there is no harmless dose range
for heritable effects or for cancer induction. Equal
doses of different types or energies of radiation cause different amounts of
damage to living tissue.
1 Gy of alpha radiation causes about 20 times
as much damage as 1 Gy of x-rays. Therefore the equivalent dose was defined to
give an approximate measure of
the biological effect of radiation. It is calculated by multiplying the
absorbed dose by a weighting factor WR which is different for each type of
radiation (see above table).The sievert (Sv) is the SI unit of equivalent dose.
Although it has the same units as grays, J/kg, it measures something different.
It is the dose of any type of radiation in Gy that has the same biological
effect on a human as 1 Gy of x-rays or gamma radiation.The rem (Roentgen
equivalent man) is the traditional unit of equivalent dose. 1 sievert = 100
rem. Because the rem is a relatively large unit, typical equivalent dose is
measured in millirem (mrem), 10-3 rem, or in microsievert (µSv), 10-6 Sv.
1 mrem = 10 µSv.
The 'background' dose of natural radiation is ~
3 mSv (300 mrem) per year.
The lethal dose of radiation for a human is
around 4 - 5 Sv (400 - 500 rem). The
biological effects of radiation are thought of in terms of their effects on
living cells. For low levels of radiation, the biological effects are so small
they may not be detected in epidemiological studies. The body repairs many
types of radiation and chemical damage. Biological effects of radiation on
living cells may result in a variety of outcomes, including: Cells experience
DNA damage and are able to detect and repair the damage. Cells experience DNA
damage and are unable to repair the damage. These cells may go through the
process of programmed cell death, or apoptosis, thus eliminating the potential
genetic damage from the larger tissue. Cells experience a nonlethal DNA
mutation that is passed on to subsequent cell divisions. This mutation may
contribute to the formation of a cancer.Other observations at the tissue level
are more complicated. These include: In some cases, a small radiation dose
reduces the impact of a subsequent, larger radiation dose. This has been termed
an 'adaptive response' and is related to hypothetical mechanisms of
hormesis.Radiation hormesis is the unproven theory that a low level of ionizing
radiation (i.e. near the level of Earth's natural background radiation) helps
"immunize" cells against DNA damage from other causes (such as free radicals or
larger doses of ionizing radiation), and decreases the risk of cancer. The
theory proposes that such low levels activate the body's DNA repair mechanisms,
causing higher levels of cellular DNA-repair proteins to be present in the
body, improving the body's ability to repair DNA damage. This assertion is very
difficult to prove (using, for example, statistical cancer studies) because the
effects of very low ionizing radiation levels are too small to be statistically
measured amid the "noise" of normal cancer rates.Therefore, the idea of
radiation hormesis is considered unproven by regulatory bodies, which generally
use the standard "linear, no threshold" (LNT) model, which states that risk of
cancer is directly proportional to the dose level of ionizing radiation. The
LNT model is safer for regulatory purposes because it assumes worst-case damage
due to ionizing radiation; therefore, if regulations are based on it, workers
might be over-protected, but they will never be under-protected.
In biology, radiation is mainly used for
sterilization, and enhancing mutations.
Grace Fryer started work as a dial painter at the United States
Radium Corporation (USRC) in Orange, New Jersey.
Dial painting was "the
elite job for the poor working girls"; it paid more than three times the
average factory job, and those lucky enough to land a position ranked in the
top 5% of female workers nationally, giving the women financial freedom in a
time of burgeoning female empowerment.
Radium's luminosity was part of
its allure, and the dial painters soon became known as the "ghost girls" -
because by the time they finished their shifts, they themselves would glow in
Believed to be beneficial to health: People drank radium
water as a tonic, and one could buy cosmetics, butter, milk, and toothpaste
laced with the wonder element. Newspapers reported its use would "add years to
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