What Is Radiation?
Radiation is everywhere in the universe, since the beginning of time. Radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels in the form of waves or high speed particles. Radiation comes in different forms and is able to penetrate various materials. Radiation is mainly released from atoms, the smallest particle of matter or chemical element that can exist.
An atom is made up of three subatomic particles classified as protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons are situated in the central part of the atom called the nucleus and are surrounded by a halo of orbiting electrons. When radiation is emitted, it excites the orbiting electrons and causes them to vibrate.
There are two types of radiation: Ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. Non-ionizing radiation has a low energy level and therefore cannot change the chemical properties of a substance. Light waves, sound waves, microwaves, ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and radiowaves are examples of non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation has energy high enough to remove electrons from an atom to create an electrically charged ion. This ionization process often results in chemical changes in living tissues, which can lead to injury in the organism. Ionizing radiation is known as harmful radiation. Gamma rays, X-rays, alpha and beta particles are examples of ionizing radiation.
In ionizing radiation the energy emitted is very high in such a way that it excites the electrons which will then begin to vibrate. As they vibrate, the high energy that is being emitted to an atom will cause an electron to move from an occupied orbital into an empty, high energy orbital to form ions. The process of formation of ions is called ionization, therefore the name ionizing radiation evolved.
In non-ionizing radiation, the energy produced is very low to a point that it is unable to remove certain electrons from an atom to form an ions. The energy is only enough to cause vibration of electrons of an atom.
We use non-ionizing radiation in our daily life. We use microwaves to cook food and radiowaves to transmit information.
Although ultraviolet (UV) radiation is non-ionizing, exposure to it could cause harmful sunburns therefore we should take...