Biological Effects on Living Systems

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    Ionizing radiation can cause damage to cells either immediately (acute) or after a long period of time (chronic). Radiation damage from large, acute exposures are readily observable. Small and/or chronic exposures can result in radiation damage to the cell in the form of mutations such as cancer. These long term effects cannot be distinguished from damage that could be caused by other agents such as chemicals, heat, or trauma.

    This makes it difficult to tell what caused damage in an organism, especially when studying effects of low-level radiation such as occupational exposures to ionizing radiation.


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