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They also pose a serious internal radiation threat if beta-emitting atoms are ingested or inhaled.


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See also alpha particle , gamma rays , neutron , x-ray. Biodosimetry: The use of physiological, chemical or biological markers of exposure of human tissues to ionizing radiation for the purpose of reconstructing doses to individuals or populations. Biological half-life: the time required for one half of the amount of a substance, such as a radionuclide, to be expelled from the body by natural metabolic processes, not counting radioactive decay, once it has been taken in through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption.

See also radioactive half-life , effective half-life. Burn: the partial or complete destruction of skin caused by some form of energy, usually thermal energy.

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Carcinogen: a cancer-causing substance. Cesium Cs : has a half-life of Cs is produced by nuclear fission for use in medical devices and gauges and is one of the byproducts of nuclear fission processes in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons testing. Small quantities of Cs can be found in the environment from nuclear weapons tests that occurred in the s and s and from nuclear reactor accidents, such as the Chernobyl power plant accident in , which distributed Cs to many countries in Europe. Chain reaction: a process that initiates its own repetition.

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In a fission chain reaction, a fissile nucleus absorbs a neutron and fissions splits spontaneously, releasing additional neutrons. These, in turn, can be absorbed by other fissile nuclei, releasing still more neutrons. A fission chain reaction is self-sustaining when the number of neutrons released in a given time equals or exceeds the number of neutrons lost by absorption in non-fissile material or by escape from the system. Chronic exposure: exposure to a substance over a long period of time, possibly resulting in adverse health effects. See also acute exposure , fractionated exposure.

Cobalt Co : a gray, hard, magnetic, and somewhat malleable metal. Cobalt is relatively rare and generally obtained as a byproduct of the production of other metals, such as copper. Its most common radioisotope , cobalt Co , is used in radiography and medical applications. Co emits beta particles and gamma rays during radioactive decay.

Collective dose: Animation The sum of the individual doses received in a given time period by a specified population from exposure to a specified source of radiation Adapted from HPS. Committed dose: a dose that accounts for continuing exposures expected to be received over a long period of time such as 30, 50, or 70 years from radioactive materials that were deposited inside the body.

Committed dose equivalent CDE : The dose to a specific organ or tissue that is received from an intake of radioactive material by an individual over a specified time after the intake. For radiation protection purposes, the specified time is to the age of 70, which is normally taken to be 50 years for a radiation worker and 70 years for a member of the public.

Radiation Terms, Health Physics Society. Committed effective dose equivalent CEDE : The committed dose equivalent for a given organ multiplied by a weighting factor see the definition of Weighting Factor. Concentration: the ratio of the amount of a specific substance in a given volume or mass of solution to the mass or volume of solvent. Contamination radioactive : the deposition of unwanted radioactive material on the surfaces of structures, areas, objects, or people where it may be external or internal. Contamination means that radioactive materials in the form of gases, liquids, or solids are released into the environment and contaminate people externally, internally, or both.

An external surface of the body, such as the skin, can become contaminated, and if radioactive materials get inside the body through the lungs, gut, or wounds, the contaminant can become deposited internally.

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Contamination, fixed: Fixed skin contamination is that which remains after bathing or attempted decontamination. Contamination is assumed to be removed by natural processes within hours 14 days after deposition on the skin. Contamination, loose: Loose skin contamination is that which is removable by bathing or decontamination.

Controlled area: An area where entry, activities, and exit are controlled to help ensure radiation protection and prevent the spread of contamination. Cosmic radiation: radiation produced in outer space when heavy particles nuclei of all known natural elements bombard the earth.

See also background radiation , terrestrial radiation.

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Coulomb: the international system SI unit of electric charge. A coulomb is the quantity of charge passing a cross section of conductor in one second when the current is one ampere. Criticality: a fission process where the neutron production rate equals the neutron loss rate to absorption or leakage. A nuclear reactor is "critical" when it is operating.

Critical mass: the minimum amount of fissile material that can achieve a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Cumulative dose: the total dose resulting from repeated or continuous exposures of the same portion of the body, or of the whole body, to ionizing radiation. Curie Ci : the traditional measure of radioactivity based on the observed decay rate of 1 gram of radium. One curie of radioactive material will have 37 billion disintegrations in 1 second. Cutaneous Radiation Syndrome CRS : the complex syndrome resulting from radiation exposure of more than rads to the skin.

The immediate effects can be reddening and swelling of the exposed area like a severe burn , blisters, ulcers on the skin, hair loss, and severe pain. Very large doses can result in permanent hair loss, scarring, altered skin color, deterioration of the affected body part, and death of the affected tissue requiring surgery. Decay chain decay series : the series of decays that certain radioisotopes go through before reaching a stable form.

For example, the decay chain that begins with uranium U ends in lead Pb after forming isotopes, such as uranium U , thorium Th , radium Ra , and radon Rn Decay constant: the fraction of a number of atoms of a radionuclide that disintegrates in a unit of time. The decay constant is inversely proportional to the radioactive half-life.

Decay products or daughter products : the isotopes or elements formed and the particles and high-energy electromagnetic radiation emitted by the nuclei of radionuclides during radioactive decay. Also known as "decay chain products" or "progeny" the isotopes and elements. A decay product may be either radioactive or stable. Decay, radioactive: disintegration of the nucleus of an unstable atom by the release of radiation. Decontamination radioactive : the reduction or removal of radioactive contamination from a structure, object, or person.


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Decorporation: removal of radioactive isotopes from the body using specific drugs called "decorporation agents. Depleted uranium: uranium containing less than 0. See also enriched uranium. Deposition density: the activity of a radionuclide per unit area of ground. Reported as becquerels per square meter or curies per square meter.

Detector: A device that is sensitive to radiation and can produce a response signal suitable for measurement or analysis. A radiation detection instrument. Deterministic effect: an effect that can be related directly to the radiation dose received. The severity increases as the dose increases. A deterministic effect typically has a threshold below which the effect will not occur.

See also stochastic effect , non-stochastic effect. Deuterium : a non-radioactive isotope of the hydrogen atom that contains a neutron in its nucleus in addition to the one proton normally seen in hydrogen. A deuterium atom is twice as heavy as normal hydrogen. See also tritium. Dirty bomb: a device designed to spread radioactive material by conventional explosives when the bomb explodes.

A dirty bomb is much simpler to make than a true nuclear weapon. See also radiological dispersal device.

Several different terms describe radiation dose. Dose coefficient: the factor used to convert radionuclide intake to dose. Usually expressed as dose per unit intake e. Dose equivalent: Animation The product of absorbed dose to a given organ or tissue multiplied by a quality factor also known as a weighting factor [WF] , and then sometimes multiplied by other necessary modifying factors, to account for the potential for a biological effect resulting from the absorbed dose.

It is expressed numerically in rem traditional units or sieverts SI units. Dose rate: the radiation dose delivered per unit of time. Dose reconstruction: scientific procedures that assist with 4 activities - managing victims of radiation emergencies, such as providing input to decisions on protection of emergency workers and members of the public or medical treatment of exposed individuals; providing exposed individuals or populations with information about the doses they received; investigating dose-response relationships in epidemiologic studies; determining whether individuals whose disease might have been induced by radiation qualify for compensation.

Dosimeter: a small portable instrument such as a film badge, thermoluminescent dosimeter [TLD], or pocket dosimeter for measuring and recording the total accumulated dose of ionizing radiation a person receives. Dosimetry: assessment by measurement or calculation of radiation dose. Effective dose: Animation a calculated quantity developed by the ICRP for purposes of radiation protection.

The effective dose is assumed to be related to the risk of a radiation-induced cancer or a severe hereditary effect. It takes into account: 1 the absorbed doses that will be delivered to the separate organs or tissues of the body during the lifetime of an individual due to intakes of radioactive materials; 2 the absorbed doses due to irradiation by external sources; 3 the relative effectiveness of different radiation types in inducing cancers or severe hereditary effects; 4 the susceptibility of individual organs to develop a radiation-related cancer or severe hereditary effect; 5 considerations of the relative importance of fatal and non-fatal effects; and, 6 the average years of life lost from a fatal health effect.

HPS Thus, the effective dose is a quantity calculated by multiplying the equivalent dose received by every significantly irradiated tissue in the body by a respective tissue weighting factor this factor reflects the risk of radiation-induced cancer to that tissue and summing together the individual tissue results to obtain the effective dose. Such a dose, in theory, carries with it the same risk of cancer as would an equal equivalent dose delivered uniformly to the whole body. See also biological half-life , decay constant , radioactive half-life. Electromagnetic radiation: A traveling wave motion that results from changing electric and magnetic fields.

Types of electromagnetic radiation range from those of short wavelength, like x-rays and gamma rays, through the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared regions, to radar and radio waves of relatively long wavelengths. Electrons surround the nucleus of an atom because of the attraction between their negative charge and the positive charge of the nucleus.

A stable atom will have as many electrons as it has protons. The number of electrons that orbit an atom determine its chemical properties.