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Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Tristan DeBuhr
Physical Geology
Fall 2014


Effects of Radiation on Humans

            Radiation comes in all types of forms. Some are dangerous, some are beneficial and some have not yet been fully studied. Radiation has made negative impacts on human health and is research intensively due to how many types there are and how much damage they can do to us. The research will attempt to explain radiation by its classified groups along with describing three radiation types and how they do damage to human health.

            Radiation types are classified under two groups, ion and non-ionizing radiation. The non-ionizing radiation is defined as “radiation with enough energy so that during an interaction with an atom, it can remove tightly bound electrons from the orbit of an atom, causing the atom to become charged or ionized” ( Non- Ionizing radiation is defined as “… a series of energy waves composed of oscillating electric and magnetic fields traveling at the speed of light” ( To be clear, the difference between the groups, non-ionizing radiation is what we used to cook food and give cell phones radio waves to give feedback on; Ionizing radiation is used to “…kill cells or change genes so the cells stop growing”(


(Photo from, also can be seen from

           To further understand the types of radiation, there are several types of radiation from the chart that are defined and categorized as either ion or non-ionizing radiation groups. The chart doesn’t go into depth on how dangerous each type of radiation is. There have been numerous scientific articles that have gone in depth on what each radiation is and how dangerous they are.

An article from has concerns about radio waves coming from smart meters and how much it could damage human health. A portion from the website that has worries about radio waves having a negative effect on human health such as “…can excite electrons and play havoc with various human systems – particularly the nervous system – leading to symptoms of mental confusion, headaches, sleep disturbances and the like.”
 ( Most sites that report the experimentations has posted the results the most damage that radio waves can do is just create heat.

However, though radio waves do not affect us much, it does affect bees which are important organisms that is essential to our food supply. has studies from the imperial college in the UK and India that has results with experimentation with bees and radio waves. Researchers in India did a experiment with bees and radio waves by “fit[ing] cell phones to a hive and powered them up for two fifteen-minute periods each day”(Herriman).  After experimenting for three months, they have negative results that conclude that radio waves affects bees.  Production of honey and population size were halved. Scientist from UK believe that bees might be affected by cell phone radiation and that radiation is interrupting their cryptochrome. Cryptochrome by the encyclopedia definition is “Light-sensitive proteins found in both plants and animals that detect and change conformation in response to blue light.” Andrew Goldsworthy has mention that insects and animals use cryptochrome for navigation and their ability to use cryptochrome is affected by the radiation from cell phones that emit radio waves.   The only problem with this result is that CCD (Colony collapse disorder) and climate changes have already made impact on bee population thus making the connection with radio waves affecting bees difficult. Another controversial radiation that has been studied heavily as well is microwave radiation.

Microwave radiation “… [is] a form of “electromagnetic” radiation; that is, they are waves of electrical and magnetic energy moving together through space” ( Microwave radiation has been controversial based on whether it is safe for cooking purposes or not. has done as much experimentations on microwave radiation as well as the Experimentation was done with microwaving the food and shocking results came in with that food lost nutrition With meats, carcinogens are formed; some food groups such as dairy and carbohydrates microwaved can also have some of their amino acids be changed into carcinogens as well. This has also happen to human breast milk as has stated “vitamin content depleted, [and] some of the amino acids are also rendered biologically inactive.” It is good to note that though carcinogens are not always the cause of cancer, by, it depends on the length and intensity of the exposure. There is a radiation that does actually have higher chance of giving cancer, and that radiation is known as Ultraviolet Radiation.

Ultra violet is an ionizing radiation source. Ultraviolet radiation are invisible sun rays and this type of radiation is dangerous to human health. From, “UV radiation can have severe effects on exposed skin and eyes, cause cancer, weaken immune systems, and affect plants, animals and ecosystems”( UV radiation is also the leading cause of skin aging and winkles. The only positive out come from UV radiation is that it allows humans to get vitamin D, an important vitamin that is important to our health as it helps develop healthy bones and calcium metabolism.

Description: UV Ray intensity on the Earth Description: UV Ray skin effect

(Both photos come from

UV rays come into three different types: A, B, and C. UV ray A is responsible for causing our skin to age and winkle faster than it should.  UV ray B is the most common cause of skin cancers as it penetrates the skin deeper than UV ray A. UV ray C is the most dangerous of the rays but doesn’t affect us because of the ozone layer that protects us from it.

Radiation comes in all types and has its own impacts on human health along with its impact on our environment. Radiation is always being studied and experimented simultaneously to make a sure we are safe and that there is a solution to protect us from any potential dangers that may have not been recorded. 


Sources - article written by Sasha Herriman

Video sources – part of “The Universe” science documentary on Ultraviolet radiation