You probably know by now that electromagnetic field radiation is all around us. It is present in most public spaces, and even in the comfort of your own home. There are various technologies and devices responsible for emitting large amounts of this pollution.
It ranges from the mobile phone you are using, the microwave oven at your kitchen, and the Wi-Fi router you have installed at home. The impact of radiation depends on whether it is an ionizing radiation or a non-ionizing type of radiation.
These two kinds determines whether radiation present is powerful enough to alter your cell composition among other things. This article will discuss the difference between ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. It will also look into its impact on human health, animals, and plants. The article also comes with some of the most common sources of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.
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What is Ionizing Radiation?
An ion is an atom or molecule that is not electrically neutral. It is produced in a process called ionization. The process generates the loss or gain of electrons in any substance in able to produce an ion.
Ionization is only possible when radiation has enough energy and is capable of interacting with atoms and molecules. Compared to non-ionizing radiation, the ionizing type is more powerful. Its power lies on its ability to force electrons from their orbits in atoms and molecules.
How About Non-Ionizing Radiation?
Non-ionizing radiation, on the other hand, is less powerful and harmful compared to ionizing radiation. This kind of radiation is incapable of breaking molecular bonds and ionize atoms.
Non-ionizing has less energy, too. It is this low level of energy that makes it less capable compared to ionizing radiation. While some experts claim that this a less harmful form of radiation, it was found that constant long-term exposure to this kind of radiation can cause serious issues on your health.
Examples of Ionizing and Non-ionizing Radiation Around You
Radiation of all kinds are present in our environment. The advancement in technology made it more widespread in the 21st century. It all begun with the dream of delivering television broadcasts to the present day of wireless Internet and mobile telecommunications.
The radio waves around us subject us to more radiation than our ancestors experienced. In order to protect yourself from harms brought by radiation, there is a need to know what ionizing and non-ionizing radiation is present at home, in your workspace, and in public spaces.
The following are some of the most common ionizing radiation present in your surroundings:
- Cosmic ray from sun and other stars;
- Radioactive minerals, rocks, and soil;
- Metal mines;
- Radon exposure;
- Medical diagnostic equipment like X-rays, computed tomography, and radiotherapy; and
- Nuclear reactors.
These are a few of things that emits non-ionizing radiation:
- Thermal radiation;
- Mobile phones;
- Electric power lines;
- Wireless Internet routers;
- Microwave ovens;
- Cordless phones;
- Incandescent light bulbs; and
Which Ionizing Radiation Causes Most Damage?
Radiation coming from nuclear sources are capable of reaching your home the fastest. It is also the most capable of breaking through walls to cause negative impacts on you and loved ones. There are three types of nuclear radiation – Alpha, Gamma, and Beta.
Gamma nuclear radiation is the most penetrating among the three while alphas has the least ability to permeate through walls. However, it is still a must to protect your house from these kinds of nuclear radiation.
Given that it is a ionizing radiation, it is powerful to cause unwanted effects on your health and those on your surroundings.
Effects of Radiation
Scientists found that constant exposure to radiation can significantly alter biomarkers. Animals, plants, and humans are all susceptible to the harmful effects of this pollution. Radiation is present in every corner of the globe. There are natural ones and man-made types.
Natural ones like those coming from geological formations and those coming from the sun plays an essential role in keeping the planet’s vitality. However, constant exposure to high-levels of radiation do impact you and your surroundings.
The following are some cases of how radiation impacts human health:
- Pregnant women – studies among pregnant women found who were exposed to high-level of radiation gave birth to babies with low birth weight, and with others giving birth prematurely.
- Biological markers – numerous studies that looked into the effects of radiation on health found that constant exposure to high-levels of radiation suffered from heart rate variability, changes in sleeping pattern, and electrical activity in the brain during sleep at night.
- Cancer development – while studies are still on-going for a concrete relationship between constant exposure to radiation and cancer, there is one research that linked frequent use of mobile phones and the development of cancer cells in the brain. This study emphasized the need to reduce the number of hours a child spent on his/her device to subject him/her to less electromagnetic field and other kinds of radiation emitted by the gadget.
Animals and plants are also affected all kinds of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. The following are ways they are changed by this force:
- Dogs – a study from the Colorado State University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine found that dogs who were exposed to high-levels of radiation developed lymphoma. The study observed dogs who were constantly exposed to high-voltage electric power lines. It concluded that these power lines contributed to the already present EMF in the dog owner’s home. It also disclosed that constant exposure of dogs to high-level radiation can led to development of other forms of cancer.
- Marine animals – Surfrider Foundation disclosed that marine animals are also affected by electromagnetic field radiation. The foundation raised its concern over businesses’ plans to develop alternative ocean energy. They claimed that development of such energy source can impact marine animals like sharks, rays, and skates. These animals are very sensitive to EMF because it is their tool to catch their prey.
- Plants – Plants are also not spared in the impact of high-level radiation. They are subjected to chromosomal aberrations, damage to their DNA, reduction in growth rate, changes to reproduction pattern, and direct burn damage. Plants are also indirectly affected by radiation. Businesses building a nuclear reactor usually cleans and gets rid of plants to make way for their facility. Those plants left after the construction are then exposed to high-level of heat that also impacts the nearest water source. There are plants that will help absorb radiation as well.
The Importance of Knowing Ionizing and Non-Ionizing Radiation
Getting to know which is an ionizing radiation from that of a non-ionizing radiation equipment can help you determine how to best protect yourself and your loved one from the effects of radiation.
Ionizing radiation is the more capable of the two to cause a negative impact on your health and those on your surroundings including pets and plants. Ionizing radiation happens when there is enough energy to cause an ion to be kicked out of its orbit in an atom or a molecule.
Radioactive materials, nuclear reactors, and medical diagnostic equipment are the most common sources of ionizing radiation. On the other hand, non-ionizing radiation is less powerful. It is commonly emitted by sunlight, power lines, and common household appliances like a microwave oven. Everyone now knows the side-effects of constant exposure to high-levels of electromagnetic field and other kinds of radiation.
Protecting yourself is a must to lessen the chances of developing these unwanted alterations to your body. A little research can help you in the long run in terms of protecting yourself and your loved ones from the impact of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.