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Radiation Toxicology

Toxicology of Specific Groups of Substances

  1. Naomi H. Harley

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat117

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Harley, N. H. 2009. Radiation Toxicology. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. New York University School of Medicine, Department of Environmental Medicine, New York, NY

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


The risk from ionizing radiation is that it damages DNA in specific genes. The radiation can be from internally deposited alpha or beta ray radionuclides or external X-ray or gamma ray radiation. To date the health effects or risk from exposure is the risk of cancer in a particular organ or tissue. There are four epidemiologic studies to evaluate actual human health effects from ionizing radiation exposure. These are the studies of the radium dial painters, the underground uranium miners exposed to radon and its decay products, the A bomb survivors and the X-ray exposures that were given at one time as a cure for ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis).

These studies provide quantitative risk estimates for internal and external exposure. A few radionuclides are also described although no health effects have been documented because they are abundant in crustal earth.


  • ionizing radiation;
  • alpha particles;
  • beta particles;
  • X-rays;
  • gamma rays;
  • radium;
  • radon;
  • uranium;
  • thorium;
  • lung cancer;
  • bone cancer;
  • skin cancer