How does Radiation Affect Human Health | Region 10 | US EPA

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How does Radiation Affect Human Health

High doses of radiation can be harmful or even fatal. The damage caused by exposure to radiation is determined by the type of radiation, the duration of exposure, and the part of the body that is exposed. The effects of a radiation dose are either prompt or delayed. Prompt effects occur within the first several months after exposure. Delayed effects occur over many years. The delayed effects can include cancer or other diseases in exposed persons and harmful effects on unborn children.

It is important to note that an average of one in four people develops some form of cancer. Excess lifetime cancer risks resulting from exposure to radiation are calculated in addition to this number. Risk estimates assume that even small amounts of radiation pose some risk.

Radiation from Southeast Idaho Slag

The total number of observed cancers in Southeast Idaho is low by national standards. Healthy lifestyles, rural living, and a low incidence of smoking and drinking likely contribute to the lower overall incidence of cancer in this area. Despite low cancer rates in the region, however, EPA remains concerned about possible increases in cancer risk that may be associated with slag. For that reason, EPA, Monsanto, and FMC are hopeful that area residents will sign up to participate in the southeast Idaho phosphorus slag program.

What level of radiation is safe?
No one knows for sure. This question is of ongoing interest to scientists and researchers.

How is radiation dose measured?
Radiation dose is the amount of radiation that is absorbed by the body. The human body's absorption of ionizing radiation is measured in units called "rems." Low levels of radiation are measured in thousandths of a rem, or "millirems".

Southeast Idaho Phosphorus Slag Homepage


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