Med Pro Radiation MoniteringDNA structure

Radiation Mutation: How Radiation Affects DNA

Not many people have jobs that place them in harm’s way. We rely on brave and selfless professionals in the armed forces, police service, and fire departments to do this for us. So it’s rare to even think about whether or not your job has some kind of danger. If it did, it would be apparent, right? 

Well, not necessarily because if you work in the healthcare industry, you could be surrounded by something dangerous that you can’t see. Radiation is not something that we can see, touch, or smell. We can’t even feel it interacting with our bodies. Yet, it presents a very intricate hazard to our health. If you work as a nurse, doctor, or surgeon in a hospital or local surgery, you might want to know how radiation could affect your DNA.


Where Radiation Emanates From

xray of the hand

Working in a hospital is incredibly fulfilling. However, the technology we use to give patients the care they need often comes with a price to pay like the hidden danger of radiation. The X-ray is one of the most well-known machines that emanate radiation when used. Internal sources such as Radioisotopes are sometimes injected into patients to help doctors and surgeons see what’s going on inside the tissue. And of course, chemotherapy machines will also pulse radiation into a patient, and some of this can spill out into the room, exposing you and other workers.

The Horrible Effects of Radiation

The danger of radiation impacts our DNA structure. Ionization affects our DNA in several manners. First, the beta and gamma rays are the two most common types of radiation that healthcare professionals face. Both can penetrate through the body, and move at the speed of light to knock out electrons from our molecules or affect their normal trajectory. When this happens, the chemical bonds that hold our molecules together weaken, stretch, or disintegrate. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to consider the adverse effects. When radiation rays contact our electrons, this is called direct action. The time it takes for ionization to do this is so minuscule it’s almost instantaneous; (0.000000000000001 of a second) if you must know.

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How much is needed to affect us?

Radiation is a concentrated dose of energy. It takes very little to affect our bodies, but it has to be very acute in its attack. Think of it this way; a sip of coffee affects our bodies by transferring heat from the liquid to our mouths. However, the energy is rapidly and broadly dispersed, so we don’t feel anything. But if all of that energy were concentrated onto one tiny electron, we would definitely feel the pain. 

You might be thinking that in order to have an impact, you will need to stand right in front of the X-ray machines. However, this is shockingly not the case as two-thirds of those affected from ionization have been victims indirectly. This occurs when electrons that have been hit out of orbit, then go onto striking water molecules. As you would expect, this ionizes the water molecule and creates a chain reaction known as free radical. The water molecule desperately tries to become stable by restoring its normal electron configuration. In its search, it can negatively affect our DNA molecules, causing them to rip apart.

This pile-up can occur in less than 1 second, but it usually takes a long time for the effects to become apparent. Cell death will become noticeable in either visible markers or how you feel in a matter of hours or days. For the cell to stop its normal function, it just needs 100 gray or 10,000 rad in total. For the cell to no longer have the capability of reproducing itself, it just needs 200 rad

If the cell no longer functions and reproduces, it will die, which usually means you have absorbed a lethal dose. If your entire body suffered 100 rad, you would perish in a matter of 1-2 days. If you suffered 250-500 rad dosage, it would take a few weeks.

Med-pro offer quality radiation badge to alert you when you are above the threshold

How Can You Protect Yourself?

The annual dose limit that is generally used by most hospitals is five rem for the body, 15 rem for the eyes, and 50 rem for the skin. It pays to stick to the standard procedure when it comes to using an X-ray on the patients, and make sure that you are not in the room. It’s best to stand behind a shielded area that is built for nurses and doctors. You and your colleagues must be aware of what is going on in the X-ray room. Leaving equipment on when it’s not about to be used, can flood the room with radiation, even if it’s just a little. 

Don’t think you are exempt from danger by not standing in front of the radioactive equipment. Keep in mind that indirect exposure can also put you at risk. Wearing a radiation badge from Med-pro will inform you when you are above the radiation threshold. With an affordable subscription service, you can read the report online and manage your profile, so you know when a change in environment, department, or position is needed. 

Dosimeter badges are designed to clip onto your scrubs or white coat. Don’t expose your body parts to the X-ray machine when it flashes, even if you’re in the protected area. Don’t look directly at it and make sure your colleagues remain professional and aware of the danger.


Bottom Line

radiation badge


Once direct impact occurs, it’s either a hit or miss situation of whether it transpires into a lethal case. It’s essential not to allow this runaway train to take hold. It takes less than a second to be exposed to radiation, but the effects on your DNA could be permanent. Obey the safety instructions and be mindful enough to wear a dosimeter, so you know when you’re approaching the limits


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