Atoms

Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation is electromagnetic radiation that has a certain amount of energy. Moreover, the energy is adequate to overcome binding energy and keep electrons to bind with molecule or atom. In this article, we are going to discuss this radiation in detail.

ionizing radiation

Introduction to Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation is the energy which the atoms release. Further, the radioactivity is spontaneous atom splitting and ionizing radiation is adequate energy emission. Moreover, the radionuclides produce in this activity that split and spread ionizing radiation.

Kinds of Ionizing Radiation Exposure

Internal exposure- Internal exposure occurs when radionuclide is inhaled or gets ingested in the system entering the bloodstream.  In addition, the radionuclide eradicates by either treatment or through excretory ducts.

External exposure- It occurs when radioactive material via air gets deposited on your skin or clothes. Further, you can get rid of radiation by washing.

Properties of Ionizing Radiation

  1. Rays under this radiation are generally the ones towards the stronger and more energetic end of the spectrum.
  2. The flow of energy is at the electromagnetic, atomic, or subatomic level.
  3. Molecular bonds are affected due to the displaced electrons.
  4. On living being, changes in the DNA structure is seen in case of heavy ionizing radiation exposure.

Examples of Ionizing Radiation

Natural ionizing radiations examples:

  • Zirconium
  • Metal mining and smelting
  • Radioactive rock, minerals, and soil
  • Cosmic rays from Sun and stars

Man-made ionizing radiations examples:

  • Medical testing equipment like radiotherapy, X-rays, and tomography.
  • Nuclear reactor

Types of Ionizing Radiation

  • Alpha particle
  • Beta particle
  • Gamma rays

Alpha Particle

These are particulate radiations that are slow and heavy as compared to X-rays and gamma rays. Moreover, the alpha particle gets dangerous when inhaled. Further, Radon is colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas that comes from radium decay. Moreover, they are 20 times effective than gamma and X-rays. During nuclear decay, the liberated energy is shared between the alpha particle and the daughter nucleus.

Uses– Used as smoke detectors and in space probes. We also use it in radiotherapy in treating cancer.

Beta Particle

These are electron that is smaller as compared to alpha particles. It penetrates human skin and causes tissue damage. Further, one can inhale it through contaminated water and food. The particles occur in the nuclei with excessive neutrons. Moreover, the beta particles are present in the nuclear fission of radioactive products.

Uses- We use it in a thickness detector for controlling the quality of thin material. We use Tritium as emergency lightning and fluorine-18 as a tracer for PET. Next up, we also use beta particles for treating bone and eye cancer.

Gamma Rays

It is emitted by the nucleus of certain radioactive elements. The waves are of the shortest wavelength. They are present in the radiation decay of uranium and thorium. The radiations are present in soil, rock, food, and water.

Uses- Used in pasteurization and levelling gauges in food packing. Caesium- 137 is controlling and measuring liquid flow in the industrial process while we use cobalt-60 in industrial radiography.

Application of Ionizing Radiation

This radiation has a wide range of application. These includes:

  • In smoke detector – Americium 241 is a radioactive material which we use in Smoke detector. The alpha particles ionize on coming in contact with smoke, thus resulting in triggering of the smoke alarm
  • Healthcare Industry – Radioactive iodine is a radionuclide which we use in the treatment of hyperthyroidism and cancer. We use radioactive tracers and dyes and isotopes (Technicium 99) in Cardiac Stress test to identify arterial blood flow pressure.
  • X-Ray,  Ct scan, PET scan help in identification of abnormalities using this radiation. The most common radioactive elements used in these processes are Iridium 192, Cobalt 60, and Cesium 137
  • Ionizing radiation plays a very vital role in the sterilization of medical devices, food and vegetable packaging and even manufacturing units.

FAQ on Ionizing Radiation

Question 1: Give a few examples of Ionizing Radiation.

Answer 1: Ionizing radiation occurs all around us. Some of the most common examples of ionizing Radiation includes

  • Various types of light like Ultraviolet light, Infrared Light, Visible Light
  • Radio wave
  • Heatwave
  • X rays and Gamma Rays

Question 2: Is Ionizing Radiation used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

Answer 2: MRI machine does not emit as much radiation as an X-Ray machine or CT scan imaging. However, due to the strong magnetic field created in an MRI machine, it is important to inform about medical implants and devices beforehand.

Question 3: What are the type of Ionization Radiation?

Answer 3: As of now, there are 5 specific types of Ionizing Radiation. These are Alpha particle radiation, Beta particle radiation, Gamma rays, X rays and Positrons.

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