Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation is uncommon in agricultural settings. Ionizing radiation may be used in food sterilization and decontamination procedures. Excessive exposure to ionizing radiation may lead to acute or chronic radiation sickness. Rapidly dividing cells, such as the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and blood-generating cells in the bone marrow, are particularly sensitive to radiation exposure. Hence, acute radiation sickness is characterized by gastrointestinal disturbances, bleeding due to platelet loss, infections due to immune-system damage, and anemia. Exposed skin may suffer acute burns and subsequent scarification. Chronic radiation exposure may be associated with cancer and reproductive abnormalities. Prevention of illnesses and injuries from ionizing radiation involves eliminating or minimizing exposure. Radiation sources should be properly shielded and radiation exposures monitored. Persons not educated in working around such sources should not have access.

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