How can the dentist be bad for you?
Radioactive decay occurs when a nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting particles of ionizing radiation. Too much radiation can be very harmful to our health and have fatal consequences. In our daily lives, radiation is used in x-rays at the dentist's or doctor's office.
Even though radiation can be harmful, it can be very useful in medicine. Radiation and radioactive substances are used for diagnosis, treatment, and research. X-rays pass through soft tissue, but are stopped by dense materials, which allows doctors to find broken bones and locate cancers that are growing in the body. One form of radiation, ionizing radiation, can kill cancer cells by forming ions in the cells of the tissues. Even though this method is very harsh to the body, it can be very effective in diminishing cancer.
- Research this topic to learn more about the sources of radiation. How much radiation does an airplane flight emit? How about an x-ray at the dentist?
- Many cancers including leukemia, bladder, colon, liver, and lung cancers are caused by high dosages of radiation. What could be an example of a high dosage?
- Radiation is a part of many people's jobs. What ensures that they won’t get too much radiation?
- How does the elevation of where we live affect the amount of radiation we receive?
- How does radiation affect the cells in our body?