Radiation exposure / poisoning, or radiation sickness is a form of damage to organ tissue caused by excessive exposure to ionizing radiation. The term is generally used to refer to acute problems caused by a large dosage of radiation in a short period, though this also has occurred with long term exposure.
The clinical name for radiation sickness is acute radiation syndrome (ARS) as described by the CDC. A chronic radiation syndrome does exist but is very uncommon; this has been observed among workers in early radium source production sites and in the early days of the Soviet nuclear program. A short exposure can result in acute radiation syndrome; chronic radiation syndrome requires a prolonged high level of exposure.
Radiation exposure can also increase the probability of developing some other diseases, mainly cancer, tumours, and genetic damage. These are referred to as the stochastic effects of radiation, and are not included in the term radiation sickness.
The use of radionuclides in science and industry is strictly regulated in most countries. In the event of an accidental or deliberate release of radioactive material, either evacuation or sheltering in place are the recommended measures.
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Last Updated: Sep 15, 2014