Radiation is energy that moves from one place to another in the form of waves or particles. We are exposed to radiation in our daily lives through some of the most common sources of radiation, such as sunlight, microwaves in our kitchens, and the radios we listen to in our cars. Most of this radiation does not pose a threat to our health. In general, the risks of radiation are lower when exposed to low doses, but the risks can increase when exposed to large doses. Different measures must be taken, depending on the type of radiation, to reduce its effects on humans and the environment, allowing us to benefit from its many applications.

Health: Radiation can be used in medical procedures, in many cancer treatments and in diagnostic imaging methods.

Energy: Radiation allows us to produce electricity via solar and nuclear energy.

Environment and climate change: Radiation can be used to treat wastewater or to breed new varieties of plants that are resistant to climate change.

Industry and science: Using radiation-based nuclear techniques, scientists can examine ancient parts or produce materials with distinctive properties, as is the case in the automobile industry.

Radiation has many useful applications but as with every activity, when there are risks associated with its use, specific measures must be taken to protect people and the environment. The use of different types of radiation requires different protective measures. The use of “non-ionizing radiation”, which has lower energy, has fewer protective measures than “ionizing radiation”, which has higher energy. The IAEA sets standards to protect people and the environment regarding the peaceful use of ionizing radiation – in line with its mission.

Non-ionizing radiation is lower-energy radiation that does not have enough energy to separate electrons from atoms or molecules, whether in matter or in living organisms. However, energy can cause these molecules to vibrate and thus produce heat. This is how microwave ovens work, for example.

In general, non-ionizing radiation does not pose a risk to people’s health. However, workers who regularly and directly deal with some sources of non-ionizing radiation may need special measures to protect themselves from the heat generated by these radiations.

Some other examples of non-ionizing radiation include radio waves and visible light. Visible light is a type of non-ionizing radiation that the human eye can perceive. Radio waves are a type of non-ionizing radiation that we cannot see or perceive with our other senses, but these waves can be picked up by traditional radio devices.

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