The Effect Of Radiation On Human And Plant

Everyone on the planet is exposed to a certain amount of radiation as they go about their daily lives. Radioactive material is found naturally in the air, soil, water, rocks, and vegetation.




Everyone on the planet is exposed to a certain amount of radiation as they go about their daily lives. Radioactive material is found naturally in the air, soil, water, rocks, and vegetation. The greatest source of natural radiation for most people is radon.

Scientists have been studying the effects of radiation for over 100 years; so we know quite a bit about how radiation interacts with us, and its effect on our environment. Because we can measure radiation and because we understand its health effects, we can work safely around it. The main aim of this study is to highlight the of radiation on human and plants














1.0                                          INTRODUCTION

1.1                            BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels through space at the speed of light. This energy has an electric field and a magnetic field associated with it, and has wave-like properties which can also be called “electromagnetic waves”.

Radiation can also be known as an energy that travels in the form of waves or particles and is part of our everyday environment. People are exposed to radiation from cosmic rays, as well as to radioactive materials found in the soil, water, food, air and also inside the body.

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to visible light. Unlike light, however, x-rays have higher energy and can pass through most objects, including the body. Medical x-rays are used to generate images of tissues and structures inside the body. If x-rays travelling through the body also pass through an x-ray detector on the other side of the patient, an image will be formed that represents the “shadows” formed by the objects inside the body.

X-rays are a naturally occurring form of electromagnetic radiation. They are produced when charged particles of sufficient energy hit a material.

Over the years, scientists have shown concern over the health implications of X-rays. After all, they involve firing radiation at the patient.

Wilhelm Röntgen is credited with first describing X-rays. Just weeks after he discovered that they could help visualize bones, X-rays were being used in a medical setting.

The first person to receive an X-ray for medical purposes was young Eddie McCarthy of Hanover, who fell while skating on the Connecticut River in 1896 and fractured his left wrist.

Everyone on the planet is exposed to a certain amount of radiation as they go about their daily lives. Radioactive material is found naturally in the air, soil, water, rocks, and vegetation. The greatest source of natural radiation for most people is radon (David J. et al., 2013).

Additionally, the Earth is constantly bombarded by cosmic radiation, which includes X-rays. These rays are not harmless but they are unavoidable, and the radiation is at such low levels that its effects are virtually unnoticed.

Pilots, cabin crew, and astronauts are at more risk of higher doses because of the increased exposure to cosmic rays at altitude. The main aim of this study is to carry out a research on the effect of radiation on human and plant (David J. et al., 2013).

1.2                                   PROBLEM STATEMENT

There has been a lot concern about radiation exposure from medical imaging, and many patients are asking about it. They want to know if radiation from mammograms, bone density tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, and so forth will increase their risk of developing sickness like cancer. For most women, there’s very little risk from routine x-ray imaging such as mammography or dental x-rays. But many experts are concerned about an explosion in the use of higher (excess) radiation–dose tests, such as CT and nuclear imaging. The study was carried out to enlighten the reader about the effects of radiation on human and plant.

1.3                      AIM AND OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The main aim of this seminar is to carry out a study on the effects of excessive dose of x ray radiation and it remedy. The objectives are:

  1. To understand the causes of radiation
  2. To study the effects of radiation on human and plant.
  • To the study the uses and danger of using x-ray
  1. To study remedies of radiation.

1.4                                  RESEARCH QUESTION

At the end of this seminar, student involved shall be able to provide answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the effects of radiation to humans?
  2. What are the symptoms of radiation exposure?
  • What is considered radiation exposure?
  1. What effect did radiation have on plants?


Everyone is exposed to small doses of ionizing radiation from natural sources all the time — in particular, cosmic radiation, mainly from the sun, and radon, a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, water, and building materials. How much of this so-called background radiation you are exposed to depends on many factors, including altitude and home ventilation. But CT scans give the largest dose of Xrays compared to other Xray procedures. This study focused on the effects of radiation on human and plant.

1.6                                                      SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This seminar work will throw more light on the causes and best techniques for protecting oneself from radiation. This study is also designed to be of immense benefit to everyone that read it is said that everyone is exposed to radiation.

1.7                                EXPOSURE TO IONIZING RADIATION

Radiation exposure may be internal or external, and can be acquired through various exposure pathways.

Internal exposure to ionizing radiation occurs when a radionuclide is inhaled, ingested or otherwise enters into the bloodstream (for example, by injection or through wounds). Internal exposure stops when the radionuclide is eliminated from the body, either spontaneously (such as through excreta) or as a result of a treatment.

External exposure may occur when airborne radioactive material (such as dust, liquid, or aerosols) is deposited on skin or clothes. This type of radioactive material can often be removed from the body by simply washing.

Exposure to ionizing radiation can also result from irradiation from an external source, such as medical radiation exposure from X-rays. External irradiation stops when the radiation source is shielded or when the person moves outside the radiation field (National Research Council, 2016).

People can be exposed to ionizing radiation under different circumstances, at home or in public places, at their workplaces (occupational exposures), or in a medical setting.

Exposure to ionizing radiation can be classified into 3 exposure situations. The first, planned exposure situations, result from the deliberate introduction and operation of radiation sources with specific purposes, as is the case with the medical use of radiation for diagnosis or treatment of patients, or the use of radiation in industry or research. The second type of situation, existing exposures, is where exposure to radiation already exists, and a decision on control must be taken – for example, exposure to radon in homes or workplaces or exposure to natural background radiation from the environment. The last type, emergency exposure situations, result from unexpected events requiring prompt response such as nuclear accidents or malicious acts.

Medical use of radiation accounts for 98 % of the population dose contribution from all artificial sources, and represents 20% of the total population exposure. Annually worldwide, more than 3600 million diagnostic radiology examinations are performed, 37 million nuclear medicine procedures are carried out, and 7.5 million radiotherapy treatments are given (National Research Council, 2016).

The radiation you get from x-ray, CT, and nuclear imaging is ionizing radiation — high-energy wavelengths or particles that penetrate tissue to reveal the body’s internal organs and structures. Ionizing radiation can damage DNA, and although your cells repair most of the damage, they sometimes do the job imperfectly, leaving small areas of “misrepair.” The result is DNA mutations that may contribute to cancer years down the road.

We’re exposed to small doses of ionizing radiation from natural sources all the time — in particular, cosmic radiation, mainly from the sun, and radon, a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, water, and building materials. How much of this so-called background radiation you are exposed to depends on many factors, including altitude and home ventilation. But the average is 3 millisieverts (mSv) per year.

Exposure to ionizing radiation from natural or background sources hasn’t changed since about 1980, but Americans’ total per capita radiation exposure has nearly doubled, and experts believe the main reason is increased use of medical imaging. The proportion of total radiation exposure that comes from medical sources has grown from 15% in the early 1980s to 50% today. CT alone accounts for 24% of all radiation exposure in the United States, according to a report issued in March 2009 by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.


Understanding the type of radiation received, the way a person is exposed (external vs. internal), and for how long a person is exposed are all important in estimating health effects.

The risk from exposure to a particular depends on:

  • The energy of the radiation it emits.
  • The type of radiation (alpha, beta, gamma, x-rays).
  • Its activity (how often it emits radiation).
  • Whether exposure is external or internal:
  • External exposure is when the radioactive source is outside of your body. X-rays and gamma rays can pass through your body, depositing energy as they go.
  • Internal exposure is when radioactive material gets inside the body by eating, drinking, breathing or injection (from certain medical procedures). Radionuclides may pose a serious health threat if significant quantities are inhaled or ingested.
  • The rate at which the body metabolizes and eliminates the radionuclide following ingestion or inhalation.
  • Where the radionuclide concentrates in the body and how long it stays there.


Radiation has sufficient energy to affect the atoms in living cells and thereby damage their genetic material (DNA). Fortunately, the cells in our bodies are extremely efficient at repairing this damage. However, if the damage is not repaired correctly, a cell may die or eventually become cancerous.

Exposure to very high levels of radiation, such as being close to an atomic blast, can cause acute health effects such as skin burns and acute radiation syndrome (“radiation sickness”). It can also result in long-term health effects such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Exposure to low levels of radiation encountered in the environment does not cause immediate health effects, but is a minor contributor to our overall cancer risk (David J. et al., 2013).

Acute Radiation Syndrome from Large Exposures

A very high level of radiation exposure delivered over a short period of time can cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting within hours and can sometimes result in death over the following days or weeks. This is known as acute radiation syndrome, commonly known as “radiation sickness.”

It takes a very high radiation exposure to cause acute radiation syndrome—more than 0.75  (75 in a short time span (minutes to hours). This level of radiation would be like getting the radiation from 18,000 chest x-rays distributed over your entire body in this short period. Acute radiation syndrome is rare, and comes from extreme events like a nuclear explosion or accidental handling or rupture of a highly radioactive source.


According to the Health Physics Society radiations have a positive effect on plant growth at lower radiation levels and harmful effects at high levels. Plants need some types of non-ionizing radiation like sun-light for photosynthesis. Though these solar radiations are vital for the survival of plants but some other forms of non-ionizing and ionizing radiations are deleterious for plants.

Ultraviolet radiation affects plant growth and sprouting and the amount of damage is proportional to the radiation received. Due to radiation exposure soil can become compact and lose the nutrients needed for plants to grow. The experiments conducted in laboratories by supplying ultraviolet radiation through filtered lamps proved that higher doses of radiation administered to the plants were highly damaging (EPA, 2011).

Radiations disrupt the stomatal resistance. The stomata are a small air hole within the plant leaf that also controls water levels. If there is too much evaporation due to intense radiation the stomata close to reserve water. If the stomata are unable to open for a long period of time, the growth of the plant is stunted. Prolonged exposure to radiation can completely damage the stomata and ultimately the plant is destroyed.

Plant cells, contain chromosomes i.e. the genetic material responsible for plant reproduction if the ceil is much damaged by radiation then reproduction is hindered. As UV radiations destroy cells, the chances of mutation are increased. Affected plants are often small and weak with altered leaf patterns.

Prolonged radiation exposure can completely destroy the fertility of plant and the plant gradually dies. The surroundings also become poisoneel and may prevent the growth of future offspring’s. Studies have revealed that after the disastrous Chernobyl accident the herbs, plants and soil of Sweden and Norway were showered with radioactive rain for many days which entered the food chain through soil and ultimately to human body. Even today the lichens people eat are contaminated with radionuclides. Radionuclides also increase the rate of mutation in plants Radioactive elements tend to accumulate in soil sediments, air and water and ultimately they reach man.

Intense radiations kill plants but differently. Trees and shrubs vary in their reactivity and sensitivity towards radioactive substances. This variation is found mainly due to the difference in their size and chromosome number. Sparrow had reported that plants with less number of chromosomes offer larger target of radiation attack than those with excess of small chromosomes.

According to one report of 1990 each tonne of phosphatic fertilizer contains 82 kg of fluorine and 290 micrograms of uranium, which severely pollute the soil and plants.

Some plants such as pine trees died immediately. Radiation pollution is comparatively high near nuclear power plants and many radionuclides especially caesium 137, iodine 131, strontium 90 and carbon-14 occur in abundance there which accumulate in plant tissues growing in that region. Plants absorb maximum light near 280 nm, due to this reason plant proteins are more susceptible to ultraviolet radiations (EPA, 2011).

In plants 20 to 50% reduction in chlorophyll content and harmful mutations are seen due to UV radiations. A report from Australian National University suggests that UV-B (i.e. UV- Biological) radiations reduce the effectiveness of plant photosynthesis in plants by up to 70%. Due to intense UV radiations greater evaporation of surface water occurs through the stomata of the leaves which results in decrease in soil moisture content.

Many marine algae and other sea weeds accumulate high concentration of radioneuclides in their body. Sea weed Sargassam contains high concentration of Iodine-131. Manganese 54 (Mn-54) is also accumulated in algae and other marine organisms. Zirconium 95 (Zr-95) is absorbed by algae Ce-141 is mainly found in algae inhabiting the seashores. Similarly many other radionuiclides also get accumulated in different sea weeds and algae and ultimately reach human beings through sea foods (EPA, 2011).

1.11                      PREVENTION OF RADIATION EXPOSURE

There are steps you can take to prevent or reduce radiation exposure (EPA, 2011):

  • If your health care provider recommends a test that uses radiation, ask about its risks and benefits. In some cases, you may be able to have a different test that does not use radiation. But if you do need a test that uses radiation, do some research into the local imaging facilities. Find one that monitors and uses techniques to reduce the doses they are giving patients.
  • Reduce electromagnetic radiation exposure from your cell phone. At this time, scientific evidence has not found a link between cell phone use and health problems in humans. More research is needed to be sure. But if you still have concerns, you can reduce how much time you spend on your phone. You can also use speaker mode or a headset to place more distance between your head and the cell phone.
  • If you live in a house, test the radon levels, and if you need to, get a radon reduction system.


Everyone is exposed to radiation in one form to the other but in different level, and the exposure have much impact to human and also to plants as discussed in this work.

To determine the level of x-ray radiation on someone’s body, it is recommended you visit a doctor to refer you to a medical health physicist or diagnostic medical physicist for information on medical radiation exposure and an estimate of exposure. You can also get an estimate of typical doses for procedures with the RADAR Medical Procedure Radiation Dose Calculator online.


National Research Council (2016). Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press (p. 7).

Brenner, David J. et al., 2013 “Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: assessing what we really know.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100, no. 24, (pp. 13761-13766).

National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, 2018. Implications of Recent Epidemiologic Studies for the Linear Nonthreshold Model and Radiation Protection, NCRP Commentary 27. Bethesda, Maryland:  National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

Shore, R.E. et al., 2018. “Implications of recent epidemiologic studies for the linear nonthreshold model and radiation protection.” Journal of Radiological Protection, no 38,(pp. 1217-1233)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011. “EPA Radiogenic Cancer Risk Models and Projections for the U.S. Population.” EPA Report 402-R-11-001.


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