Science Questions

What is non-ionising radiation?

Sat, 1st Sep 2007

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Question

Shane, Australia asked:

I work near non-ionising radiation in my work. What is this, and is it dangerous?

Answer

Non-ionising radiation is not as dangerous as ionising radiation.  Ionising radiation is the sort of radiation that we know does damage to cells like x-rays, gamma rays and beta rays which can cause damage to the DNA in your cells and cause cancer.  Ionising radiation is so called because it produces ions by interacting with the atoms in your cells.

Non-ionising radiation doesn't have enough energy to do this, so it doesn't damage your cells in the same way and is generally regarded as relatively safe.  An example of non-ionising radiation is, in fact, visible light.

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