Biological Effects of Radiation

Biological Effects of Radiation

Common terms used in discussing the biological effects of ionizing radiation: (the links

are information at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission website.)

What is a curie?

(here) ( )

What is a rad?

(here) ( ) What do the letters stand for?

What is a rem?

(here) ( ) What do the letters stand for?



beta ( ) and

Gamma radiation ( ) , the dose equivalent is the same as


absorbed dose. ( )

True or false?


By contrast, the dose equivalent is larger than the absorbed dose

For alpha ( ) and

neutron radiation ( ) ,

because these types of radiation are more damaging to the human body.

True or false?


To calculate the potential biological damage in rems, the radiation

absorbed dose is multiplied by a quality factor. The quality factor takes

into account that some radiation, such as alpha radiation, is potentially

more damaging than beta radiation.

(here) ( )

True or false?

The hazardous effect of a radioactive element depends (at least partly) on where the

elements go in our body.

Where is strontium-90 likely to be found in our bodies?

What types of

cancer is it associated with?


The half-life of strontium-90 is 28.9 years. But the “biological half-life”

may be much less, perhaps tens to hundreds of days. What does the term

biological half-life?


Why did children born in the 1950s and 60s have relatively high levels of

strontium-90 in their teeth? What was this attributed to?

Why is radon associated with lung cancer?



Why does radon accumulate in buildings?


ASTM E-2121 is a US standard for reducing air-born radon in homes as

far as practicable below the action level of 4

picocuries per liter (pCi/L)

(148 Bq/m3). Some states recommend achieving 2.0 pCi/L or less.”


Why is testing for radon important? Describe one or two of the methods

used to reduce the levels of radon that can enter a dwelling.

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