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ICRPædia Guide to the Basics of Ionising Radiation


Radiation is energy, in the form of waves or particles, moving through space.

Radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, x rays, and gamma rays are all types of radiation, listed from lowest to highest energy.

Ionising radiation is radiation with enough energy to break chemical bonds. In the list above, this includes x rays and gamma rays.

In addition to X rays and gamma rays there are many other types of ionising radiation, the most common being alpha radiation, beta radiation, and neutron radiation.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection deals only with ionising radiation. If you are looking for information other types of radiation, check out the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection.

Whenever we refer to radiation on ICRPædia, we mean ionising radiation unless we say otherwise.

There are many Sources of Radiation Exposure relevant to radiological protection.

Effects of Exposure to ionising radiation are classified into two simple categories for the purposes of radiological protection.

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The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) is the leading international body on radiation levels and effects. Visit the UNSCEAR website or read the UNEP report on "Radiation Effects and Sources" based on UNSCEAR work to learn more.