What You Need To Know About Radiation Poisoning

Posted on: 16 May 2017

Of all the various types of toxic waste, nuclear waste seems like the most frightening because the radiation the waste emits is invisible and odorless. Fortunately, modern methods of disposing and storing nuclear waste keeps harmful radiation contained long after its half-life is reached. Nuclear waste from power plants, research, medicine, mining and military programs all pose a risk until it is disposed of properly.

One of the most common ways you can become exposed is simply by encountering waste that has not been disposed of yet. If your facility is at risk from any of these radiation sources, employees and anyone else working nearby can develop physical symptoms relating to exposure. Here's what you need to know about radiation poisoning or sickness.

Exposure Length And Severity

The severity of radiation poisoning depends on how long you are exposed to radiation, and how high the level of radiation is. In the unlikely event of a nuclear explosion, radiation levels would be sudden and extremely high, resulting in immediate and severe sickness. Lower levels of exposure to radiation over a long period of time are less likely to cause immediate symptoms.

Signs Of Radiation Poisoning

If you or someone is exposed to radiation, at first you will feel like you are getting the flu:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Later, you might even feel better before later symptoms appear. If radiation levels are high enough, you will experience skin burns. As radiation damages cells and other structures inside your body, bone marrow is the most vulnerable. It cannot produce new blood cells, and your body feels fatigued and anemic. You will be susceptible to bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Bloody noses are frequent, as well as bruising easily. If levels are high enough, you will experience hair loss, low blood pressure, and wounds that won't heal properly.

What About Later In Life?

Many people exposed to radiation never show obvious symptoms, but this does not mean your body was not affected. Because the energy in radiation is enough to disrupt molecular bonds, it damages the structure of your DNA. Most strands repair themselves properly, but a small percent of future generations of cells experience an increased rate of mutation. The result is an increased risk for cancer, especially blood and thyroid.

While the chances of encountering undisposed nuclear waste from power plants, research and medicine is low, it is possible. Knowing the symptoms of radiation poisoning and what to expect can help you prevent severe radiation poisoning. Contact a specialist, like TransChem Environmental, for more help.