A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology

Larry Foulke

Radiation and Realism 4.2 Radiation Damage in Biological Systems

Let’s Review Ionization
• All three radiation types are capable of ionizing target atoms in materials. • What were the three types of radiation? • Charged particles (protons, electrons, fission products, alpha particles) • Electromagnetic radiation (gamma rays, X-rays) • Neutrons
Nuclear Engineering Program

Let’s Review Ionization • All three radiation types are capable of ionizing target atoms in materials. biological damage. as well as the constituent atoms in the target material. Nuclear Engineering Program .). • The rate of ionization (damage) depends on the type and energy of the radiation. – Ionization reactions damage materials by breaking chemical bonds and disrupting normal chemical processes (material embrittlement. • Ionization events are the root cause behind ALL observable effects of radiation. etc.

– Only photons with an energy greater than the ionization energy of a given atom or molecule are considered ionizing. but typically only X-rays and gamma rays are considered ionizing. – All charged particles are ionizing.Ionizing Radiations • Is radiation that contains enough energy to remove one or more electrons from an atom or molecule. – Some molecules are affected by photons in the visible or UV range. photon charged particle neutron Nuclear Engineering Program Image Source: See Note 1 .

• However. Nuclear Engineering Program . neutron interactions with atomic nuclei can produce secondary particles that cause ionizations. – Elastic collisions with light (H. N) nuclei cause the positively charged nucleus to recoil. C.Ionizing Radiations • Neutrons do not have a charge and do not interact with the electron cloud so they are not able to directly cause ionizations. – Inelastic collisions or nuclear absorptions produce ionizing γ rays. O. – Fission events produce positively charged fission fragments as well as ionizing γ rays.

000 Beta 100 100 Gamma 10. • The ionization density is determined by the LET. ---------------------------------------------------------Relative Relative Radiation Range LET ---------------------------------------------------------Alpha 1 10.000 1 ---------------------------------------------------------Nuclear Engineering Program Ionization Density .• The number of ionization events that a single particle of radiation can produce is determined by the energy of the radiation.

Ionization Density Average Human Cell neutron gamma ray x-ray alpha particle Separation of ion clusters relative to size of a human cell (conceptualized) Nuclear Engineering Program Image Source: See Note 2 .

– Cells are the basic building blocks of life – Cells are grouped together by specialization into tissues – Tissues work together to form organs. which perform specific functions – Adult humans have approximately 7×1013 total cells of 210 different types Nuclear Engineering Program . whose functions are coordinated by a nervous system. held together by connective tissue.Review of “Biology 101” • An animal is an organized collection of organs.

Each cell builds proteins required to perform the specialized tasks of the cell.Cell Functions • All cells perform certain basic tasks: – Metabolism • Cells break down complex nutrient molecules to release energy that is used to enable biochemical reactions within the cell. – Reproduction • Cells reproduce by division. referred to as mitosis in eukaryotic cells. • Every cell contains specialized organelles. Nuclear Engineering Program . – Protein Synthesis • Protein molecules take part in all biochemical processes in the cell. which are responsible for performing these tasks.

Organelles 1. Centriole Cell Biology 101 Every cell is 70-90% water Nuclear Engineering Program Image Source: See Note 3 . Lysosome 13. Cytoskeleton 8. Ribosome 4. Nucleolus 2. Rough endoplasmic reticulum 6. Cytoplasm 12. Smooth endoplasmic reticulum 9. Mitochondrion 10. Golgi apparatus 7. Nucleus 3. Vesicle 5. Vacuole 11.

Cell is alive but useless. -or• Cell may not create protein required for its specialized task. but is sterile. Nuclear Engineering Program . or may reproduce incorrectly.Cell Damage • Ionization can disrupt any of the three major functions of cells: – Metabolism • Cell may not produce the energy that it needs and dies. Cell remains alive and functioning. – Protein synthesis • Cell may not create protein needed for cell survival. – Reproduction • Cell may not reproduce.

this requires a lot of energy to be deposited within a single cell: – Direct radiation damage • High LET charged particles ionize biological molecules directly. – Indirect radiation damage • High-energy γ rays produce strongly oxidizing free-radicals by radiolysis.Cell Damage • Many ionizations within a single cell typically results in enough damage to disrupt metabolism or protein synthesis and immediately kill the cell. • For radiation damage. Because cells are mostly water. indirect damage due to radiolysis of water is the most common mechanism. The free radicals then travel through the cell destroying molecules. Nuclear Engineering Program .

and charged particles) Hydroxyl (Free radical) Hydrogen peroxide (Free radical) Oxygen Hydrogen Electron γ ray Hydroperoxyl (Free radical) Other (neutral) products: H2.Radiolysis of Water Before Reaction Possible Recombination Products Free electron (Charged particle) H. O2.or H+ (Free radical. H. H2O Nuclear Engineering Program Image Source: See Note 1 BAD .

• Cell death typically requires hundreds of ionizations or oxidations within a single cell. • However. Nuclear Engineering Program . One or two events can disrupt the normal cell cycle.Traumatic Cell Death • Cells have redundant features and many types of repair mechanisms to handle biochemical disruptions (otherwise we would never survive!). cell reproduction is much more sensitive to ionization / oxidation events.

P. 1507) Nuclear Engineering Program . (Abelson. • Cell death typically requires hundreds of ionizations or oxidations within a single cell. independent of radiation. approximately 500.000 radioactive disintegrations occur every minute. p. Vol. (Luckey. • In the human body. 9 September 1994. Science.What about radiation and DNA? • Cells have redundant features and many types of repair mechanisms to handle biochemical disruptions (otherwise we would never survive!). Radiation Hormesis. every cell in the human body undergoes approximately 8000 DNA-modifying events.H.. 265. 1991) • Every hour on the average.

• DNA is organized into a double-helix shape. one from dad). • The DNA sequence is arranged into bands called genes. • Pollycove: “The body has about 100 trillion cells.” DNA Nuclear Engineering Program Image Source: See Note 4 .000 DNA alternations daily. Each gene carries the recipe for one protein. with nucleotide base-pairs between 2 phosphate backbones.” • Pollycove: “Each cell undergoes about 25. • Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (one set from mom.

Nuclear Engineering Program . – An acute dose is generally more damaging than a chronic dose of the same size.Radiation Dose Effects • The amount of energy deposited in a material is referred to as radiation dose. • Chronic Dose – Dose delivered over an extended period of time. because the body’s repair mechanisms have less opportunity to act. • Acute Dose – Dose delivered over a short period of time.

inflammation – Immune suppression – Sterility – Blood chemistry changes – Loss of hair – Gastrointestinal syndromes – Central nervous system syndromes Nuclear Engineering Program .Short-Term Radiation Effects • Immediate Effects (hours to days) Increasing Dose – Skin reddening.

Long-Term Radiation Effects • Long term effects (months to years) – Cancer / leukemia – Cataracts – Genetic defects – Blood disorders – Lifespan shortening • Scientific consensus on high dose effects. • Lack of consensus on low dose effects. Nuclear Engineering Program .

Public domain: http://commons.svg 4.wikipedia.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dia gram_human_cell_nucleus_no_text.wikipedia. University of Pittsburgh.Image Source Notes 1.org/wiki/File:Animal_Ce ll. Public domain: http://en.org/wiki/Dna . Public domain: http://en. Reprinted with permission from David Griesheimer.png 3. 2.

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