Radiation injury to plants and animals
Upton, Arthur C. Institute of Environmental Medicine, New York University Medical Center.
Last reviewed:September 2018
Show previous versions
- Effects of radiation on cells
- Effects of radiation on animal tissues
- Effects of whole-body irradiation
- Radiation-induced cancer
- Mechanisms of cancer induction
- Effects of radiation on plants
- Practical hazards of ionizing radiation
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Injury due to the harmful effects of radiation on animal and plant cells and tissues. Exposure to ionizing and nonionizing radiation (Fig. 1) can be injurious to living matter. Ionizing radiation, which includes highly energetic electromagnetic radiation (x-rays, gamma rays, and cosmic rays) and particulate radiation (alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons, and heavy charged ions), is sufficiently energetic to cause ionizations in biological material. Nonionizing radiation, which includes ultraviolet radiation, microwaves, and extremely low frequency electromagnetic radiation, causes molecular excitations. In both cases of radiation, but especially with regard to ionizing radiation, the result is that chemical bonds of molecules may be altered, causing mutations, cell death, or other biological changes and injuries. However, many of the biological mechanisms involved with radiation injury are still poorly known. For example, in multicellular organisms, the effects of radiation on cells are complicated by the interaction of injured and intact cells. Consequently, proper understanding of radiation injury in multicellular organisms calls for appreciation not only of the reaction of individual cells, but also of groups of cells in organs and tissues. See also: Electromagnetic radiation; Gamma rays; Radiation; Radiation biology; X-rays
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