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Ionizing Radiation

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Kiel John P. Mendoza IV-SC-A Ionizing radiation Ionizing radiation has always been a part of the human environment. Along with natural radioactive sources present in the Earth's crust and cosmic radiation, manmade sources also contribute to our continuous exposure to ionizing radiation. Environmental radioactive pollution has resulted from past nuclear weapons testing, nuclear waste disposal, accidents at nuclear power plants, as well as from transportation, storage, loss, and misuse of radioac
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  Kiel John P. MendozaIV-SC-AIonizing radiation Ionizing radiation has always been a part of the human environment. Along withnatural radioactive sources present in the Earth's crust and cosmic radiation, man-made sources also contribute to our continuous exposure to ionizing radiation.Environmental radioactive pollution has resulted from past nuclear weapons testing,nuclear waste disposal, accidents at nuclear power plants, as well as fromtransportation, storage, loss, and misuse of radioactive sources. While there arerisks associated with exposure to radiation benefits of nuclear applications in medicine industry and science are well established. WHO’s radiation programme aims to assure that the benefits of radiation technology far exceeds any knownrisks. WHO's Ionizing Radiation Programme The Radiation and Environmental Health Programme within the WHO’s Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments Cluster, evaluates health risks and publichealth issues related to environmental and occupational radiation exposure.The aim of the Radiation and Environmental Health Programme is to look forsolutions to protect human health from ionizing radiation hazards by raisingpeople's awareness of the potential health risks associated with ionizing radiation,and the importance of its safe and rational management.Through promoting research and providing recommendations for emergencymedical and public health responses to radiation accidents and terrorist acts, andproviding advice to national authorities, we hope to enable national and local publichealth authorities to deal with radiation exposure issues effectively, facilitating keyresearch programmes and providing sound advice Ionizing Radiation: Benefits Versus Risks Over 90% of the genetic dose to the United States population from man-madesources of ionizing radiation derives from medical exposure. Most of this is fromdiagnosis and only about 1 % is from occupational exposure. It is estimated thatover 90% of the health physicists in the United States are engaged in programsdesigned to reduce unnecessary occupational exposure and most of these effortsare limited to the nuclear energy industry which, partly through their efforts, hasbecome one of the safest of all modern industries. There is no question that medical  X-ray is an essential diagnostic tool; however, this in na wise justifies an averagepatient dose that may be 10 times that necessary to obtain required medicalinformation. It is indicated that through education, training, certification and propermotivation of all doctors and X-ray technicians permitted to use X-ray diagnosis, bythe application of improved techniques and the use of better equipment, patientdose can be reduced by an order of magnitude while greatly increasing the amountand improving the quality of diagnostic information. Although many lives are savedby medical X-ray diagnosis, on the assumption of a linear relationship betweendose and effect, considerable lives also are lost because of unnecessary andexcessive patient exposure. It is expected that in the days ahead a large fraction of the attention of the health physics profession will be directed toward maximizingthe ratio of benefits to risks in medical X-ray diagnosis. Radiation Health Benefits and the Broader Concept of Radiation Hormesis The information that comprises the approximately 100 year-old field of radiationhealth benefit and radiation hormesis spans a spectrum ranging from obscureprinted articles and booklets, articles in the popular media, several books, articlesin mainstream peer-reviewed scientific journals, and numerous website articlesranging from the wild and wooly to the very tame and conservative. The vastnessof the literature in this field, along with the complexity and the ever-changingnature of jargon employed, sometimes obscures what the theories and theorists inthe field of radiation hormesis are really saying. In recognition of this problem, hereis a really quick-and-dirty synopsis and summary of the field of radiation hormesis:First, at its most conservative and minimal definition, the term radiation hormesis referneces the fact that the effects of radiation upon living systems may best bedescribed by a U-shaped or J-shaped curve, where exposure to small to modestlevels of ionizing radiation is not only harmless but also beneficial, but whereexposure to high levels of ionizing radiation is decidedly harmful. The focus of thissite is the realm of health benefits of low level exposure (LLE) to radiation fromnatural sources.A large number of scientists, folks working the field of radiation health physics, andothers feel that exposure to small to modest levels of ionizing radiation may bebeneficial to humans and animals (and to all other life forms.) The postulatedmechanisms for this benefit from such exposure, for the most part, have almostalways included one or more of the following:    the hypothesis that exposure to low or modest levels of ionizing radiationchallenges the body via mild oxidative stress, forcing it to produce higherlevels of endogenous (i.e., internally produced) antioxidants. This theory isalmost undoubtedly true; there exists a pretty strong body of evidence for it.    somewhat related to the above model, the hypothesis that exposure to lowor modest levels of ionizing radiation challenges the body via mild oxidativestress, forcing or training the immune system to produce higher levels of anti-inflammatory compounds and to engage in higher levels of tissue repair  and regeneration. This theory is almost undoubtedly true; there alreadyexists a pretty strong body of evidence for it.    then there exists the hypothesis that cells in humans and other organismsare able to utilize incident radiation as a beneficial source of energy. Someauthors have referenced this phenomenon using the terms radiogenesis  or radiosynthesis , but the problem here is that both of these terms havealready been used to describe the production of radioactive isotopes in thelaboratory via exposure of various elements to neutron or positron radiationfrom active sources, and thus these two terms are likely not optimal. In anycase, the model revolves around the hypothesis (for which there existsconsiderable evidence in the literature) that the cells of living organisms(including the human body) can somehow intercept quanta of ionizingradiation and convert it into usable energy in a harmless and beneficialmanner. Interestingly, this radical-sounding hypothesis is largely all butproven within the mainstream sciences for plants and microbes; so-called radiogenesis has been rather reliably demonstrated across a range of plantsand microbes, including many genera that are not classified asphotosynthetic. So, the ability of cells to use incident radiation as a beneficialenergy source seems to be one that is far more widely distributed thanphotosynthesis, that is, the ability to use light as an energy source.    and then -- and this one is quite a bit more on the fringes than the above-mentioned hypotheses -- there is the hypothesis that exposing fruits andvegetables, or water or other beverages, to modest amounts of ionizingradiation somehow increases the levels of certain much-needed nutrients inthese substances, with the effect that people or animals which ingest suchirradiated foods or drinks experience improved health or reversal of aging.This latter theory is particularly popular in some circles of alchemy. And,when this model or similar models emerge at times in the rather wild andwooly world of ormus nutritionals, there is the added presumption that thebeneficial effects noticed from ingesting such foods and drinks are likely dueto ormus or ormus-like effects, that is, that the radiation exposure createdormus or ormus-like compounds in the food or drink. There are also somefolks -- including myself on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays -- within thefields of alchemy and ormus who further believe that these ormus-like effectsmay also be induced directly into the body via whole-body exposure tonatural sources of ionizing radiation offering far higher levels than normalbackground levels.
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