What is ionizing radiation? What types of ionizing radiation do you know? What type of ionizing radiation is the most dangerous for humans and why?
Ionizing radiation is a stream of charged and neutral particles, as well as electromagnetic waves. When passing through a substance, ionizing radiation causes ionization in it, i.e., the conversion of neutral, stable atoms and molecules of a substance into electrically charged, excited, unstable particles. This is a complex radiation that includes several types: alpha radiation, beta radiation and gamma radiation.
Alpha radiation – ionizing radiation consisting of alpha particles (helium nuclei) emitted during nuclear transformations. Alpha particles spread over small distances: in air – no more than 10 cm, in biological tissue (living cell) – up to 0.1 mm. These particles are completely absorbed by a sheet of paper and do not pose a danger to humans, except in cases of direct contact with the skin.
Beta radiation – electronic ionizing radiation emitted during nuclear transformations. Beta particles travel up to 15 m in air, up to 15 mm in biological tissue, and up to 5 mm in aluminum. Man’s clothing almost doubles the effect of these particles. They are almost completely absorbed by window panes and any metal screens several millimeters thick. In direct contact with the skin, they are also dangerous.
Gamma radiation – photon (electromagnetic) ionizing radiation emitted during nuclear transformations and propagating at the speed of light. Gamma particles propagate in the air for hundreds of meters and freely penetrate clothing, the human body and significant thicknesses of materials. This radiation is most dangerous to humans, as it spreads over long distances and has great penetrating power.
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