Difference between Ionizing and Nonionizing Radiation

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Ionizing radiation is any electromagnetic radiation or wave that has a frequency above the visible light. Ionizing radiation has photons with a higher frequency and energy,as compared to photons in the lower frequency of an atom or molecule. This reason makes an electron move very fast,making it ejected or removed from the atom or molecule, thus, becoming an ion which is positively charged.Ionization only takes place, when there are atomic interactions of molecules or atoms. When living organisms are introduced to these ions, they are biologically changed. Nonionizing radiation is any electromagnetic radiationor wave that has frequency lower than that of the visible light. Their photons carry low energy per quantum that is not enough to remove an electron from an atom or a molecule to make it an ion (Pattison, J.E., Bachmann, D.J., Beddoe, A.H., 1996).

Ionizing Radiations

There are various types of ionizing radiation, which are produced throughthe nuclear fission and nuclear fusion, particle accelerators and radioactive decay. Ionizing particles interact with atoms or molecules on target,and it must have high energy that can make electrons dislodged. In the electromagnetic process, charged particles interact with photons of high energy, making them ionized.

Ionizing radiations are extremely vital in our daily life. They occur mainly in two forms, either in electromagnetic rays (for instance x-rays, gamma rays and ultraviolet rays) or particles (such as beta particles and alpha particles), protons and neutrons. X-rays are produced by machines in an x-ray tube, while gamma rays are produced by the disintegration of unstable atoms. They also occur naturally from decay of radioactive substances like radon gas, and can be produced artificially.


There are various effects of these ionizing radiations. In medical radiography, x-rays are used to cast imageslike presence of malignant growths, foreign objects in the body on a photographic film. This helps doctors detect any damage or defect within the body, and administer the proper treatment. Also, x-rays are used in counting of items produced industries. When anitemis passed between an x-ray source and the detector, it blocks x-rays from reaching the detector, and this makes a count.

Irradiation is a process, where gamma radiations are used to kill living things. In this application, gamma rays are used to sterilize different equipment, for example, in pharmaceutical centers, and also used in the process of preserving food by killing the bacteria that cause rotting and spouting of food.

Human beings get nourishment of vitamin D from the ultraviolet ray. Many diseases, such as jaundice, psoriasis, eczema and rickets are treated by the use of ultraviolet radiations, but all these should be done under highly supervised medical condition, while taking into account the advantage and disadvantage of using it. Prolonged exposure of ultraviolet rays causes damage to the skin, leading to cancer of the skin, eye inflammatory and immune system.

When radiation effects occur, they can be either immediate or delayed. Immediate or prompt effect includes sickness and burns from radiation after the prolonged exposure, or whenadministered over a short span of time. On the other hand, delayed effects include cancer induction and forming cataracts, as seen after a long time of radiation exposure.

In industries, ionizing radiations have been used widely to manufacture variety of products that are most important to our life. These products include, dosimeter that measures the absolute temperature, Geiger counters, oscillation counters which is used to measure presence of ionizing radiations directly

Ionizing radiations are also used to carry out tests in different materials for identification and proper usage, used to generate electricity heat and for those people who travel on space, also used in inspecting welds, moisture content in the soil is also determined by the use of ionizing radiations and radioactive tracers are used to track various elements as they move in the environment and in the human body.

Nonionizing Radiation

Nonionizing radiationisextremely vital in our daily life. One uses this type of radiation in a different area, since they do not cause any harm to body tissues and the genetic composition of DNA of any living organisms. One uses non-ionizing radiations in every day to talk through cellular phones, watching televisions, listening radios, cooking food, radar communications, laptops, high voltage power lines, tablets and security alarms (Cresswell, Adam March, 2011).

Nonionizing radiations include microwave,radio wave, infrared radiation and visible light in their increasing order of frequencies. Microwave radiation is used in an oven cooking, whereby food is heated rapidly and efficiently bythe dielectric heating. Therefore, microwave radiation is a vital tool in industrial production of cooking appliances, like ovens. Exposure to microwave directly has no harm to living organisms; hence, no dangers of cancer are attacking an individual while using ovens.

Radio waves travel with the same speed as that of light. They are used in radio communication, whereby the radio antenna picks several signals. The radio tuner is used to select the specific wavelength at a time, and ignoring the rest. Different radio stations transmit different wavelengths which are detected by the radio tuner hence producing sound of that station.

 Radio waves do not have any effect on tissues of living organisms, since they do not break the bond of DNA structure, because they have low energy. Radio waves have also enabled the industrial manufacture of radios and cellular phone sets.

Infrared Radiations

Infrared radiations lie in between the visible light and the microwave. Infrared is used to make satellites that help in taking pictures of different things in space,such as the galaxy, the solar system, planets and clouds. Infrared is used in industries to manufacture lamps, paints, drying inks, and maintaining temperatures of foods in hotels. Infrared lamps are used in the field of medicine to cure diseases on the skin and also used to relive pains in the sour muscles. In industry infrared is used widely to manufacture ovens that are specifically modified and designed for drying surfaces after painting or enameled. Also the ovens are used to dry textiles, leather and metals.     (James Edward, 2007).


In conclusion, ionizing radiation is extremely useful to the daily life, and, on the other hand, it is quite dangerous, as they can cause death, when excessively exposed. They possess high energy and high frequency that enables them to move extremely fast, causing electrons to dislodge from an atom or a molecule, thus, becoming an ion. This technique of ionizing atoms or molecules has greatly improved the field of science and technology in coming up with new inventions, discoveries, and innovations. X-rays, gamma rays as an example are used to cure diseases in the field of medicine.

Non-ionizing radiations are equally vital, and do not have more danger, unlike ionizing radiations. It has made life comfortable in that through the invention of cellular phones, one can communicate using a cell phone with another person in any part of the world. Also the invention of machines that make our work easier and more efficient.

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