Types Of Radiation

radiation conduction convection

The word “Radiation” is deeply related to our daily day life. A huge no of modern technology depends on electromagnetic radiation like telecommunication systems, radar security technology, remote control technology, etc. Here the discussion will be about different types of radiation, uses of radiation.

We know energy (suppose Heat energy) transit from one place to another by three processes.

  • Radiation
  • Conduction
  • Convection

Let’s know What is Radiation?:

Radiation is a process by which energy travels from one place to another without the presence of any medium. e.g. heat energy comes from the sun to earth. In two ways it transmits energy to different places:

  1. Waveform,( Electro-Magnetic wave). Diffraction, Reflection, polarisation, etc can be explained only using the wave nature.
  2. Particle form, Photon Particle, which is packets of energy. Some natural phenomena like Solar cell electricity generation due to sunlight, to explain these phenomena, we have to consider the particle nature. The photoelectric effect is also explained by the particle nature.

Electro magnetic wave has a broad spectrum of energy, from very low energy to very high energy.

types of radiation

Types of Radiation:

Radiation interacts with atoms of a medium( solid, liquid, gas ). The results of the interaction are two types:


When Radiation passes through, some medium atomic electrons are knocked out from cells and medium gets ionized. So the radiation for which such a phenomenon happens is called ‘Ionizing Radiation‘  Example-For Cancer treatment ionizing radiation is used,  X-Ray, Gumma Ray.

The particulate radiation like Electrons, Protons,(charged particles), etc. The Charged Particulate Radiations interact through Coulomb Interaction.

On the basis of the ionizing mechanism, two types of ionizing radiation are there:

  • Indirectly Ionizing Radiation, Example: uncharged particles, Photons, Neutrons.
  • Directly Ionizing Radiation, Example: Protons, Electrons.


In this case, medium, will not get ionized, that’s why it is called ‘Non- Ionizing Radiation‘ Example-Visible light, microwave, radio wave, etc.

ionizing & non ionizing radiation

Use of Ionizing Radiation

  1. Medical Field: Uses as medicine to treat Cancer(radiotherapy) and for diagnosis purpose it uses in x-ray radiograph, ct scan, pet scan.
  2. Industry: To detect leaks in the pipe, uses as a tracer, to inspect metal parts, to check the integrity of welds, X-ray radiograph uses to check luggage at the airport.
  3. Agriculture: Radioisotopes use to produce high yielding corp seeds which will increase the agricultural yields.
  4. Food Preservation: By gently exposing to radiation, certain types of foods can be stored for longer periods and also use for food sterilization.

DNA damage

How does radiation cause cancer?

According to scientific evidence, any type of ionizing radiation may cause cancer. By indirect ionization process X-rays, Gamma rays interact with atoms in the following steps…

  1. First, interacts with atoms and generates high energy electrons.
  2. These electrons further interact with water and produce free radicals.
  3. The free radicals are very reactive, break DNA strands.
  4. The damaged cells may die, repair, or may be cancerous.

There is no consistent scientific evidence for the cause of cancer for non-ionizing radiation but causes some biological effects like generating heat in the human body. When we use a mobile phone, especially during a phone call, the nearest body part absorbs energy and produces heat which may be the cause of cancer.

How to protect yourself from radiation?

radiation protection

Time: Spend a minimum of time to reduce high exposure. Less time spends less will be the dose received. Here the dose is proportional to time spent

Distance: Distance is a very important parameter to protect from high exposure. By increasing distance from the radiation source, the individual dose can be reduced. In the case of distance, it follows inverse square law.

Shielding: High energy X-rays, alpha, beta, Gamma rays can pass through the medium. When they pass through, they lose their energy by depositing to that medium. This property helps in protection. The necessary shielding thickness of a medium varies depending on the energy and types of radiation. For shield purposes, high-density material ( lead, aluminum, copper, etc) is used.

Natural sources

Radiation exists in the environment all the time and we are exposing and adopted the background radiation.

Cosmic rays

It is coming to earth from the sun and from other sources of space. Its value increases with an increase in altitude.so air travel increases the individual cosmic rays exposure.

Terrestrial radionuclides

It is present in the earth from its formation. This includes all the natural radioactive elements which emit radiation spontaneously. like Radium-226,Cesium-137,K-40 etc.

Sources of radiation in the home

In our home, we use different types of devices like mobile phones, micro oven, smoke detector, computer screen. the soil, the building material like marvel, bricks, all these are sources of radiation.

Sources of radiation in everyday life

All the time we are exposing to natural background radiation, in air Rn-222 gaseous radioactive present which we are inhaling during our respiration process and this gas is easily soluble to water. Underground water consists of a huge amount of radon. In food like banana, potato, all these are sources of radiation.

Inside the human body, K-40 radioactive sources exist.

Man-made(Artificial) sources

X Rays which is generated in different types of diagnostic X-rays machines and in therapeutic X-Ray, man-made radioisotopes(co-60, Ir-192, etc).

Is Radiation painful?

In the human body, there is no such organ to detect the presence of ionizing radiation. So, when a patient gets irradiated, no pain filling due to radiation.

“We can’t think the Universe without Radiation”

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