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Radiation Basics Demystified

Making Sense of Radiation

The threat or potential of harmful radiation can be expected from a variety of sources.
  • Nuclear weapon
  • Nuclear power plan accidents
  • Transportation and waste storage accidents
  • Military accidents
  • Vandalism
  • Terrorism

Rules for Radiosensitivity...made easy

“The sensitivity of cells to irradiation is in direct proportion to their reproductive activity and inversely proportional to their degree of differentiation.”                                          (Bergonie and Trubondeau)
What this means is:
  • The faster turnover rate (reproduction rate) a cell has the greater radiation exposure will effect it.
  • Unborn children and young children are affected more.
  • Effects can be terotgenic or mutagenic
Dose Rate Effects

From: REMM
Dose RATE is a significant factor. As the dose rate is decreased and the exposure time is increased, the biological effect for a given dose is decreased.

What this means is:

At lower dose rates more subleathal damage to the cell can repair and cell populations have time to reproduce and repopulate.




Units of radioactivity measurements

The three units of activity that are of concern to patient care are:
  • Units of activity.
  • Units of radiation dose or deposited energy
  • Units of biological dose equivalent.
  • Units of activity
From: REMM
Radioactive materials are classified by activity or rate of decay. Knowing radiation unit conversion is also helpful. The units of radioactive decay are:
  • The Becquerel (Bq) or disintegrations per second:
    • 1Bq = 1 disintegration per second
  • The Curie (Ci)
    • 1 Ci = 3.7 x 1010 Bq

Units of radiation dose

Units of radiation that is absorbed by the body is the dose.  The units of absorbed dose are:
  • The radiation absorbed dose (rad)
    • 1 rad = 0.01 Gy
    • 1 Gray (Gy) = 100 rad

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