What Should I do if I Am Exposed to Radiation?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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There are a number of ways in which someone can be exposed to radiation, and a number of ways to deal with radiation exposure, depending on the circumstances of the exposure. The most important thing to remember when you are exposed to radiation in an emergency situation is that you should remain calm, because panic will not help the situation, and you should seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

It is important to differentiate between exposure and contamination. When someone is exposed to radiation, he or she is in an area where radiation is present, which could cause a risk of contamination. In contamination, someone actually comes into contact with radioactive material. External contamination involves the presence of radioactive material on clothing, personal possessions, and the outside of the body, while internal contamination requires the ingestion of radioactive material.

The most common way for someone to be exposed to radiation is through his or her occupation. Occupational exposure is much less dangerous than other forms, because people are aware of the risks and they can take steps to reduce the problems associated with radiation exposure. If you are exposed to radiation as part of your work, you should wear appropriate shielding material, along with a badge which monitors radiation exposure, and you should report any known safety violations immediately to ensure that your workplace remains safe.


People can also be exposed to radiation in a medical context, as radioactive materials are used in some treatment and diagnosis. In the event of a medical exposure, the medical team which cares for you will discuss the protocol you should follow, along with any risks. It is important to follow directions and warnings carefully when radiation is used in medical treatment, especially if the treatment is extended, as is the case with some cancers.

When people think about being exposed to radiation, however, they usually are not thinking of controlled environments like a hospital or the workplace; they are imagining a situation in which radiation is released into the general environment, either accidentally or on purpose. In these emergency situations, there are a number of ways to deal with radiation exposure.

If you are in the presence of a nuclear explosion or accident, the best thing to do is to get as far away from the area as quickly as possible. You want to reduce the amount of radiation you are exposed to, and this is the most effective way to do it. Because there is a possibility of external contamination, it is a good idea to dispose of any clothing worn at the time of the event, and to wash your body and hair thoroughly with lukewarm water and soap. Clothing should be carefully bagged for future disposal by emergency personnel. You should also receive a medical evaluation.

If internal contamination is suspected, there are some drugs which can be taken to mitigate the effects of exposure to radiation, and to reduce the potential for damage. These drugs can be administered by a doctor or emergency response official, who may test you for internal contamination and question you about your proximity to the event first. You may also be asked to undergo long-term monitoring for lingering health problems.


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Post 3

That was very useful as now we have the radiation leakage report from Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

I live quite near to it ~ 300 miles. So better be prepared.

Post 2

lovely. thanks. i've just used it for my project.

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