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Radiation acts primarily by inducing DNA damage in human cells. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation indicates that disposition of energy in DNA due to being radiated is likely to cause pertaining mutations. Even the lowest doses of radiation may induce DNA mutations, the origin of cancer development. Though the human cell has a repair mechanism for damaged DNA, this repair process is not completely error-free. In some adverse cases, the repair mechanism occurs incorrectly.

In addition to the carcinogenic effects of radiation exposure, the committee also considers a risk of developing hereditary diseases, due to DNA damage in germ cells. It must be assumed that any amount of radiation may pose a risk of developing one of the many effects of radiation exposure, with no specified threshold below which the dose is considered to be safe .

Other biological effects of ionizing radiation occur upon long-term exposure to high doses of radiation. These effects involve changes at the molecular level, leading to organ and tissue damage, including anemia, skin damage and cataract formation.


UNSCEAR, 2012 Biological mechanisms of radiation actions at low doses: A white paper to guide the Scientific Committee’s future program of work, United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

UNSCEAR, 2000 Sources and effects of ionizing radiation, report to the general assembly.

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