Radiation Effects and Sources

What is Radiation? What does Radiation do to us? Where does Radiation come from?

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This publication is based on the major scientific reports of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) published in the last 25 years and aims to expand public knowledge on levels of exposure to ionizing radiation and possible associated effects. This publication does not set, or even recommend, radiation safety standards, rather, it provides information on basic science related to radiation (origin, quantities and units), on radiation effects (on humans and the environment) and on radiation sources (natural and artificial). Helping the public understand what radiation is and how it affects life on this planet lies within the core mandate of UNEP.



What does Radiation do to us?

Before going into more detail about the effects of radiation exposure, we should recall the pioneers in radiation science introduced earlier. Soon after Henri Becquerel’s discovery, he himself experienced the most troublesome drawback of radiation—the effect it can have on living tissues. A vial of radium that he had put in his pocket damaged his skin.


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