As you know, humans are exposed to countless health risks and dangers on a daily basis, some on a personal or micro level, and others on a societal or macro level. However, when it comes to protecting oneself from risks, the first and most important step is to be aware that a specific danger exists and to understand its source. Only then can we turn our attention to how to protect ourselves from such a danger. Radiation is one such threat to human health and life, the extent of which we have only begun to understand or study as little as 100 years ago. Radiation is one of the most dangerous health risks to which humans are frequently exposed. The reason it is particularly dangerous is because ionizing radiation has the capability to alter the DNA code and the chemical reactions which take place there, causing freshly created cells to come out horribly mutated, with severe consequences to one’s appearance and health. Even non-ionizing radiation changes the rotation speed of the DNA molecules and causes damage beyond repair.

How can one protect themselves from radiation’s harmful effects?

dental-x-ray-picture-1024x682To protect humans from exposure to radiation, scientists have developed models and protective measures meant to minimize the risk from radiation exposure, known as radiation shielding. Radiation is widely present in various industries, in particular healthcare with the prevalent use of x-ray scans. The reason radiation is so harmful is because it attacks cells on a microscopic level. Radiation poisoning spreads very quickly and alters the DNA code without a chance for recovery. It is important to use all means of protection when encountering radiation in any form. When radiating substances are kept in a certain facility, they need to isolated within a room or space built especially to negate the adverse effects of radiation. To date, lead has been the most commonly used radiation shielding material by far. Lead’s popularity as the shielding material of choice has been due to its high density, which serves to minimize or eliminate the radiation levels from x-ray or gamma ray sources, thereby reducing the risk for radiation poisoning. Lead is also a prevalent and cheap material; nevertheless, lead also comes with its own health concerns, and as such, the medical communities have begun to look elsewhere for their shielding needs.

Are there any alternatives which can be used?

Lead isn’t the only material used to protect radiation. It just happens to be the most cost-effective towards containing radiation and stopping it from reaching people. However, lead is itself a toxic material that can bring on its own health risks when exposed to humans. As such, more and more companies are looking for lead-free radiation shielding materials. Tungsten polymers are a very popular lead replacement radiation shielding material as they can achieve the equivalent shielding to lead without any toxic concerns. Some radiation shielding materials may prove to be more effective than others, but it is a fact that all of them can be used for this purpose. In direct contact with radiation, people use specialized suits which are built in a way which negates and resists radiation as much as possible. The suit comes with a helmet and protective gloves and boots as well, all built out of radiation resilient materials. Exposure to radiation may be anything from mildly harmful to lethal, depending on the concentration, length of exposure and the type of radiation. However, both types of radiation, the ionizing and non-ionizing, can create irreversible changes to the genetic code and all of the cells which are produced in your body. Protection from radiation is crucial, regardless of the amount or severity one is exposed to.