What are the effects of ionising radiation on my health?

  • Exposures to the very highest doses of ionising radiation (several Gy) can be fatal, in reality exposures at these levels is extremely rare.
  • Exposures to high doses, above 0.5Gy, can lead to injury of body tissues in the short term, again such exposures are not encountered in reality outside of accidental situations
  • The main health concern at real-life exposure levels is cancer that may develop many years after exposure.  Raised incidence of cancers have been observed in studies of many radiation exposed populations, including the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and those exposed to radiation in the nuclear industry. 

  • Fig: The effect of radiation exposure on the human body

  • The figure below illustrates some of the health effects of ionising radiation seem at different levels of exposure, the area of each square is proportional to the dose
  • Much more information on the health effects of ionising radiation can be found in the UNEP booklet and here and here.