Date Published: 05/28/2020 [Source]
Radiation is just like any other substance – the dose makes the poison. There is water all around you, but too much of it can kill you. There is a similar philosophy for medications in that too much of something will exceed a therapeutic dose and result in a lethal dose. We live in a sea of radioactivity, although some people receive more than others. People who live at higher altitudes receive higher doses from cosmic radiation, and those who live in areas with natural uranium deposits get higher doses from radon. Airline pilots receive even higher doses from cosmic radiation because there is less atmosphere shielding them. Miners have been evaluated for lung cancer because of their higher exposures to radon, although the prevalence of smoking among them complicates the evaluations.
Not only is the source of radiation important to know, but the source of information is also of great importance. There are professional societies, academic institutions and regulatory agencies that evaluate the effects of low doses of radiation and determine the levels of radiation that can be considered safe. Communication is essential throughout an incident that results in an exposure to radioactivity or radioactive material, regardless of how big or small it may be. Health physicists (radiation protection professionals) understand the hazard, and these are the experts to talk to regarding exposures to radiation and radioactive material.