UN Identifies Medical Use of Radiation as Main Source of Human Exposure to Radiation

The use of radiation in medicine accounts for most human exposure to ionizing radiation, according to a report issued today by the United Nations scientific committee on the effects of atomic radiation.

“Medical exposures account for 98 per cent of the contribution from all artificial sources and are now the second largest contributor to the population dose worldwide, representing approximately 20 percent of the total,” the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said in a summary of the report to the UN General Assembly.

Radiation produces toxic free radicals when absorbed by the body. Exposure to high levels can cause substantial damage to human body tissues, and may lead to death. Prolonged exposure to lower levels is also associated with an increased risk of ill-health.

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