Radiation Exposure

There is no safe level of exposure and there is no dose of radiation so low that the risk of a malignancy is zero — Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, dubbed the father of Health Physics

Radiation Exposure

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HWN Suggests

Why We Should Think Twice About Getting A CT Scan

People fear radiation for good reason. All ionizing radiation passes unimpeded through cells of the body, mutating or destroying DNA along the way. The danger level depends on the dose and the length of exposure. We're exposed to small amounts of radiation all the time -- from cosmic rays to the normal radioactive decay of soil, rocks and building materials. Even the granite in the U.S. Capitol Building emits low levels of radiation. These levels are harmless, but a high dose can kill, and prolonged or repeated moderate exposure can lead to cancer.

So why are we afraid of nuclear power, but not worried about the radiation in medical imaging tests, such as a CT scan? Here are a couple…

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 Why We Should Think Twice About Getting A CT Scan

Radiation's harmful effects on the body are the same no matter the source, yet we see some kinds of radiation as bad and others as good. We request CT scans from doctors, but we'd have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Fukushima evacuation zone.

Radiation Answers

Our objective is to share factual, easy-to-read information. Knowledge can reduce fear and anxiety about radiation.


If you are exposed to small amounts of radiation over a long time, it raises your risk of cancer. It can also cause mutations in your genes, which you could pass on to any children you have after the exposure. A lot of radiation over a short period, such as from a radiation emergency, can cause burns or radiation sickness. Symptoms of radiation sickness include nausea, weakness, hair loss, skin burns and reduced organ function. If the exposure is large enough, it can cause premature aging or even death. You may be able to take medicine to reduce the radioactive material in your body.

Radiation's Effect Depends on Amount

Radiation is all around, in the ground, at the doctors' office and even from the sun and stars. While large doses can be harmful, these smaller doses are part of everyday life.

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