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Radiation and Life Safety Essay

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Radiological protection deals with methods and efforts of safeguarding people and the surroundings from the deadly effects of ionizing radiation that includes electromagnetic radiation and particle radiation. Sometimes radiation cannot be controlled or contained and accidents take place causing radiation leaks. For this reason, protocols and radiation safety has become a pre-curser in our everyday life. Ionization which includes solar wind, cosmic radiation and neutron flux found in nuclear reactors.

Then there is electromagnetic radiation, under which comes X-rays, gamma radiation and ultra violet rays. Each varies in terms of potency and affect. Believe it or not, we are surrounded by radiation! As we are all sitting down reading and writing these term papers, electromagnetic radiation from sunlight, electric lights, power cables in the walls and the local radio station are coursing through our body’s. Is it something to worry about? It all depends on how much you absorb, and in what forms. There are two main types of radiation: electromagnetic radiation, and particle radiation.

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Both forms carry energy, meaning that if you accumulate too much over time, either in the tissues of your body, or in sensitive electronic equipment, they can potentially do damage. A small amount of ultraviolet radiation can give you a nice tan. Too much can increase your risk for skin cancer. A small amount of radio radiation is enough to pick up a distant station on your radio, but too much in a microwave oven will cook you in seconds! A small amount of particle radiation in, say, the radium dial of a watch, is enough to make it glow in the dark harmlessly, but too much can destroy DNA in your cells and lead to mutations…even death!

Neutron radiation is also encountered in nuclear power plants and high-altitude flight and emitted from some industrial radioactive sources. Alpha radiation is a heavy, very short-range particle, and actually an ejected helium nucleus. Alpha radiation is not able to penetrate human skin, but Alpha-emitting materials can be harmful to humans if the materials are inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through open wounds. A variety of instruments have been designed to measure alpha radiation. An example is a thin window Gaiger-Mueller (GM) probe which can detect the presence of alpha radiation.

Although, instruments cannot detect alpha radiation through even a thin layer of water, dust, paper, or other material, because alpha radiation is not penetrating. Alpha radiation travels only a few inches in the air, but is not an external hazard. Some examples of alpha emitters are: radium, radon, uranium, and thorium. Beta radiation is a light, short-range particle, and actually an ejected electron. Beta radiation may travel several feet in air and is moderately penetrating. Beta radiation can also penetrate human skin to the “germinal layer,” where new skin cells are produced.

If high levels of beta emitting sources are allowed to remain on the skin for a certain period of time, they may cause a skin injury. Most beta emitters can be detected with a survey instrument and a thin-window GM probe. Some beta emitters, however, produce very low-energy, poor penetrating radiation that may be difficult or impossible to detect. Examples of some pure beta emitters: strontium-90, carbon-14 and tritium. Gamma radiation or x-rays are very long range, penetrating electromagnetic radiation. Gamma radiation is able to travel many feet in air and many inches in human tissue.

It readily penetrates most materials and is sometimes called “penetrating” radiation. X-rays are like gamma rays. X-rays, too, are penetrating radiation. Sealed radioactive sources and machines that emit gamma radiation and x-rays respectively give manly an external hazard to humans. Gamma radiation and x-rays are electromagnetic radiation like visible light, radio waves, and ultraviolet light. These electromagnetic radiations differ only in the amount of energy they have. Gamma rays and x-rays are the most energetic of these. Gamma radiation is easily detected by survey meters with a sodium iodide detector probe.

Examples of some gamma emitters are: iodine-131, cesium-137, cobalt-60 and radium-226. Ionization is when an atom gains or loses one or more electrons. With radioactivity, this is usually because an alpha or beta particle has passed close by, and pulled an electron (or several) off of the atom. My wife and I have been married for 18 years, and one argument we continue to have is how tanning affects the human body and why my wife should not go to tanning salons. So, I chose to do this particular part of my paper on the effects of tanning.

Hopefully she will listen to this! Some people may not know it, but your risk of developing skin cancer is three times as likely if you use a tanning bed (Lazovich et al 1). You may think that tanning will make you look better or feel better, but the risks far outweigh the benefits. Tanning may cause skin cancer, depression and anxiety, and there is poor public awareness of the risks. To first understand how you get tan or you get sunburnt, you have to learn about ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is composed of three different wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

These different types of radiation are classified by their wavelengths, which can be measured by the depth that they penetrate your skin and by how far they travel (Ultraviolet Radiation 1). UVA rays have the longest wavelength. They travel 360 miles to 460 miles. This type of radiation penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin. This is also the type of radiation that is thought to cause premature aging and skin cancer. These rays are around during the winter time and during all daylight hours. Although UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, they are not as intense as UVB rays.

UVA rays are less intense than UVB because the UVA rays are less absorbed by your DNA which causes less dangerous mutations. Such as less dangerous forms of skin cancer. This type of radiation can also pass through glass (Ultraviolet Radiation 1). UVB rays are the middle range of UV radiation. These wavelengths travel 333 miles to 368 miles. This type of radiation also causes tanning, wrinkles, and burning. It also plays an important part in the development of skin cancer. The time of day when UVB rays are most present between 10 A. M. to 4 P. M. etween the months of April and October. These rays cannot pass through glass (Ultraviolet Radiation 1). UVC is the shortest of all wavelengths. It travels less than 333 miles. This type of radiation cannot reach the earth’s surface because it is filtered out by the ozone layer. It cannot be a factor in causing skin damage in humans (Ultraviolet Radiation 1). Skin cancer is a major risk to consider when tanning. Tanning may cause three different types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and worst of all, malignant melanoma (Ultraviolet Radiation 1).

There are more than 700,000 cases of squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed each year. That means that it is the second most common case of skin cancer. This cancer originates in the squamous cells. These cells make up most of the skin’s upper layers. Squamous cell carcinomas are growths that can occur on the body. They may appear on all parts of the body, but they are most common in areas that are commonly exposed to the sun. Some examples could be the rim of the ear, the face, and your neck just to name a few. This cancer is more common in men than in women and it rarely appears in people less than the age of 50.

The most common age group to get this type of skin cancer is 70 and older. This skin cancer is most common in African-Americans. This type of skin cancer is known to appear on burns, scars, and ulcers (The Skin Cancer Foundation: Squamous Cell Carcinoma 1). Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, and it is also the most common form of cancer period. Two million Americans are diagnosed with it each year. For every 3 people diagnosed with cancer, more than one are skin cancers. Basal cell carcinomas are ablations on the skin that are cancerous.

These cancerous ablations come from the deepest layer of the epidermis, which is your skin. This cancer is caused by excessive exposure to the sun, contact with arsenic, open sores that cannot heal, and problems with burns, scars, infections, vaccinations, and you can even get basal cell carcinomas by complications with tattoos. People who are most susceptible to this type of cancer have fair skin, they have blonde or red hair, and they gave blue, green, or grey eyes. Most cases occur in older people, but the number of cases occurring in younger people is increasing.

If basal cell carcinoma is not treated it can cause damage to surrounding tissue around the carcinoma, and disfigurement of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma almost never spreads to vital organs. Patients who have had one basal cell carcinoma are at high risk for it reoccurring in the same area or somewhere else on the body again (The Skin Cancer Foundation: Basal Cell Carcinoma 1). Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It can almost always be treated if caught early. If it is not treated early it can spread to different parts of the body and be hard to treat. If it becomes to invasive it can become deadly.

This type of cancer causes the most deaths. Melanoma occurs in the melanocytes which are the cells that produce pigment to color our skin. Melanomas can be a range of different colors. The most common colors are black or brown, but in other cases they have been known to be skin-colored, pink, purple, red, blue, or white. You are at increased risk for melanoma if you spend a lot of time out in the sun, you have an excessive amount of moles on your skin, if you have fair skin, if you have had previous skin cancers, and if you have a family history of melanoma (The Skin cancer Foundation: Melanoma 1).

Due to the increase of melanoma it has become the number one fastest increasing cancers among men and second among women. It has been found it studies that melanoma occurs more frequently among indoor tanners compared with people that have never engaged in this activity (Lazovich et. al 1565). Indoor tanning has also been proven to cause cutaneous ocular burns, immune system suppression, polymorphous light eruptions, and cosmetic-induced photosensitivity (Dellavale et. al 443). You may not be able to believe it, but tanning can be described as an addictive behavior.

A study done by the American Medical Association has proved that tanning can be described as a substance-related disorder. Dr. Catherine E. Mosher and Dr. Sharon Danoff-Burg conducted a study in 2006 from September to December. They took 421 undergraduates from a state university and took a questionnaire based on their sex, age, skin type, and if they have used indoor tanning devices before. From the participants that answered yes to using tanning devices, they conducted another questionnaire used to determine if a person has a substance-related disorder.

This questionnaire is called the CAGE test. They then used the 7 diagnosis criteria set by the Manual of Mental Disorders to assess if their answers determined them to be addicted to tanning. A large amount of participants that were determined to be addicted to tanning by the questionnaires had severe anxiety and mild depression. Also alcohol and marijuana abuse was more frequent in the participants that were addicted to indoor tanning than those who were not (412-415). Many people who indoor tan do not know the risks of their actions.

There is very poor public awareness. The tanning industry is worth more than 5 billion dollars. 28 million people use tanning beds and 2. 3 million of them are teenagers. A big debate is beginning to start about the restrictions and laws protecting children and teens from the use of tanning beds. Tanning beds at this moment are classified as a Class 1 medical device. Also items in this category are tongue depressors and elastic bandages. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed to congress that tanning beds be classified as Class 2 or Class 3 devices.

This change would impose higher taxes on the tanning beds. In the health reform bill, signed by President Obama, there was a 10% tax increase for the use of tanning beds. This increase has been put in place because teens have less spending money than adults and the money increase would discourage teenage use of tanning beds. The Federal Trade Commission has also been strict on the marketing of indoor tanning. Recently in January 2011 the Indoor Tanning Association marketed false health and safety claims in its ads, and the Federal Trade Commission made them retract the ad (Szabo 1).