What is radiation and how dangerous is it? Radiation is made up of subatomic particles. These particles move at very high speeds, sometimes as much as 100,000 miles per second! Because of these tremendous speeds, radiation can penetrate deep inside your body, damaging your cells.
When a radiation particle collides violently with atoms or molecules in your cells, these cells may die. If the cells survive the impact, they may begin to grow in a mutated form. And this can mean the presence of cancerous tumors.
There’s no immediate cause for alarm, however. It’s likely that you’re struck by about 15,000 radiation particles every second of your life. Some of these particles are from natural sources, and some from man-made sources like X-ray machines. A typical x-ray will bombard your cells with over a trillion radiation particles.
The good news is that only one percent of fatal human cancers are caused by the trillions of radiation particles that hit you over a lifetime. It is not really necessary to worry about every incidence of exposure to radiation. If you are worried about radiation particles damaging your cells, you could wear clothing lined with lead, just like they have at the dentist’s office. This will reduce your exposure by 50%.
But chances are, like most people, you will just accept that there is some risk involved in living and stick with your normal clothing.
Sometimes, there are situations in the modern world where radiation exposure is excessive. For example, nuclear power plant workers are exposed to far more harmful radiation than the average person. This can cause some serious health risks. British researchers have now determined that power plant workers exposed to chronic radiation face a higher risk of heart disease.
The research team compared 42,000 workers exposed to high levels of radiation to office workers. The effect on life expectancy was slight, however. Workers exposed to radiation, died on average a year earlier than their office counterparts. The researchers found that people who worked in the 1970s before better safety measures were put in to place were most at risk.
Most of us would likely avoid working in, or living near a nuclear power plant. Without that kind of long-term, high level exposure, your body is likely to survive the harmful effects of radiation that you’re exposed to every day. Provided you don’t need x-rays every day, you can go about your day without worrying about all those radiation particles out there.