Radiation shielding refers to the use of materials that have the capacity to prevent the passage of excessive doses of radiation. It can also refer to a material that has the ability to prevent the movement of any radiation whatsoever. Perhaps you are wondering why it is important to have materials that can help you to prevent the movement of radiation beyond a certain boundary. The short answer is that radiation shielding is very important to our health and safety and that of the environment. Let’s explore why it’s so important a bit further.
First of all, you need to understand that certain types of radiation have the capacity to cause harm to the body cells if they are allowed to enter the body. Granted, not all radiations have the potential to do this, however, those that can cause collateral damage to the body cells must be prevented or controlled at all costs. For example, infra-red radiation does not have any harm against the body. After all, the body also produces infrared radiation. But, radiation from radioactive materials such as polonium and uranium can prove to be very dangerous to the body’s cells. When working with such materials, you must be wary of the impact that the radiation can have on your body cells.
Perhaps you are wondering what kind of radiations can cause a significant amount of damage to the body. In general, there are many substances that produce radiation which has the capacity to distort the natural state of the body cells. Radioactive substances are the most dangerous natural substances that produce radiation worth shielding against. Apart from the polonium that has been named earlier, there is also strontium which is also radioactive. Carbon 14 is another example of a substance that is naturally able to produce radiation which is dangerous to the body. Very high doses of any of the major forms of the radioactive radiations can be very harmful to human health. Common examples of radiations that are worth shielding against also include gamma and x-ray radiation. These rays have higher penetrating powers compared to alpha rays.
Ultraviolet light is also important to shield, and it is perhaps the form of radiation shielding that humans are most familiar with, although most know it by a different name: sunscreen. There are many people who have suffered from serious skin burns due to high dose exposure of ultraviolet light. Some people have also lost their eyesight following exposure to excessive ultraviolet light such as the one produced by certain welding flames.
In order to shield against radiation, it is always advisable to find a material whose thickness is large enough to prevent the radiation from passing through. The construction of radiation shielding materials is based on their ability to contain or limit the penetrating power of a particular form of radiation.