• Question: why does radiation make people deformed

    Asked by dono to James, Ahmed, Francesca, George, Nitheen on 13 Nov 2014.
    • Photo: James Sullivan

      James Sullivan answered on 13 Nov 2014:

      Hi dono,

      Not all radiation has bad effects. Visible light, radiowaves, microwaves and infrared light are all harmless.

      Only high energy radiation such as UV light, X rays and gamma rays can damage you.

      These types of light cause molecules to lose electrons. And sometimes when molecules lose electrons they change shape.
      And if the molecule that is involved is something like DNA then it can reproduce incorrectly and that’s when you can get cancers and deformities (if the radiation hits a growing fetus).

    • Photo: Francesca Paradisi

      Francesca Paradisi answered on 13 Nov 2014:

      Some radiations can damage DNA and interfere with the correct replication of it in the daughter cells. If radiations are administered when cells are fast dividing (as it’s the case in a developing foetus) they can cause deformity. In an adult, excess radiations are more likely to cause cancers such as leukaemia.

    • Photo: Ahmed Osman

      Ahmed Osman answered on 17 Nov 2014:

      Hi dono,
      Thanks for this brilliant question
      Low energy radiation doesn’t make any harm. However high energy radiation consists of several types of subatomic particles, principally those called gamma rays, neutrons, electrons, and alpha particles that shoot through space at very high speeds, something like 100,000 miles per second. They can easily penetrate deep inside the human body, damaging some of the biological cells of which the body is composed. This damage can cause a fatal cancer to develop, or if it occurs in reproductive cells, it can cause genetic defects in later generations of offspring. When explained in this way, the dangers of radiation seem to be very grave, and for a person to be struck by a particle of radiation appears to be an extremely serious event.
      Hope it helps