Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Biological Radiation Effects

Biological Radiation Effects, effects observed when ionizing radiation strikes living tissue and damages the molecules of cellular matter. Cellular function may be temporarily or permanently impaired from the radiation, or the cell may be destroyed. The severity of the injury depends on the type of radiation, the absorbed dose, the rate at which the dose was absorbed, and the radiosensitivity of the tissues involved. The effects are the same, whether from a radiation source outside the body or from material within.

The biological effects of a large dose of radiation delivered rapidly differ greatly from those of the same dose delivered slowly. The effects of rapid delivery are due to cell death, and they become apparent within hours, days, or weeks. Protracted exposure is better tolerated because some of the damage is repaired while the exposure continues, even if the total dose is relatively high. If the dose is sufficient to cause acute clinical effects, however, repair is less likely and may be slow even if it does occur. Exposure to doses of radiation too low to destroy cells can induce cellular changes that may be detectable clinically only after some years.