General Information

How Does Radiation Affect DNA?

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Radiation exists in two forms – ionizing and non- ionizing radiation. Non- ionizing radiation is the ones emitted by radios, wifis and mobile networks. These have relatively low energy and do not affect the living cells in any significant manner.

On the other hand, high energy ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays have an extreme amount of energy. This energy can excite atoms or molecules in living cells. This causes a disassociate of molecules, leading to the potential to disruption and destruction of cells. Essentially, the DNA structure breaks down; and without DNA, the organism starts dying.

For the sake of measuring the dosage of radiation absorbed by organisms, a unit called Grays (GY) was introduced. The higher the number, the more damaging the effect. For instance, exposure to radiation of 1 Gray may cause nausea or vomiting. Exposure higher than 5 Grays is a definite death sentence.

When an individual is exposed to radiation, from a 15 kiloton nuclear bomb (identical to the one denotated in Hiroshima on 6th August 1945), death is imminent if the individual is within 0 to 3 kilometres of the blast radius. The individual will also experience a bright flash, which is the result of the thermal radiation, visible and infrared light emitted by the   This can immediately cause damage to the retina, possibly causing blindness. The skin of the individual exposed to the radiation will start to develop severe burns. Within hours, organs will start to fail, the digestive system digests itself, and the individual will lapse into a coma and die.

Individuals who were exposed to within 8-12 kilometres of the blast radius will have a 50% chance of death. However, mortality rates tend to increase with other variables such as the concentration of nuclear fallout in the atmosphere, wind, duration of exposure, etc.

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