Radiation has become a valuable tool for medical treatments, power generation, equipment sterilization, food preservation, and many other functions. Unfortunately, though it is useful, it is also quite dangerous. Exposure to high levels of radiation can cause radiation sickness. The most common form, acute radiation sickness, occurs following a single moment of exposure to an incredibly high dose of radiation. There are many other forms of radiation sickness, and symptoms vary wildly depending on the degree of exposure and the strength of the radiation.
Experts classify radiation as non-ionizing or ionizing. The former usually does not cause tissue damage in humans; it includes visible light, infrared light, microwaves, radio waves, and thermal radiation. Ionizing radiation has a larger range of uses but is also significantly more dangerous. Applications include x-rays, gamma rays, and particles. Some of the most helpful uses of ionizing radiation are medical imaging techniques such as x-rays, mammograms, and CT scans. It is also essential for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons to function properly. Most forms of radiation sickness occur due to exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation.
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