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What is the relationship between radiation dose and its effects on human body?

Ionizing radiation can cause damage to living cells and tissues. Its effects depend on the intensity of the radiation, exposure time and the kind of body cells affected.

When human body receives a high radiation dose of more than 1 Sv in a short time, acute radiation effects may occur, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue and epilation. The result may be fatal if radiation dose is 10 Sv or more with no suitable medical treatments. In addition, radiation can increase the risk of cancer and genetic mutation. For more information of the effects of radiation on human body, please refer to "What are the biological effects of ionizing radiation?".

Though the level is very low, the general public receive radiation dose from the natural environment day and night. Even for the radiation workers, the estimated fatal risk due to radiation is still below the average risk among other fatal factors. The following table shows some common risk factors for the Hong Kong populations.

Annual fatal risk of some common factors for
Hong Kong populations

Fatal factors Annual fatal risk
Smoking (10 cigarette per day) 1/2001
Malignancy 1/6302
Occupational accidents 1/55 0003
Traffic accidents 1/22 2002
Local radiation worker (around 0.15 mSv per year)5 1/170 3334

1. "Living with Radiation" published by the National Radiological Protection Board, UK (1998)
2. Annual Report 1997/98, Department of Health
3. Report of the Commissioner for Labour, 1997
4.

Risk factor was taken as 4 x 10-5 per mSv (ICRP Publication 60, 1990)

5. "Occupational Exposure in Hong Kong 1998", Department of Health

 

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The above information is provided by RHU of DH
Department of Health

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Last revision date: <19 Dec 2012>