The Different Types of Radiation Exposure

The Different Types of Radiation Exposure

Posted by William Kimmell on 10th May 2023

Radiation is energy that matter emits as particles or waves, and radiation exposure can occur naturally or from human-made sources. While some types of radiation exposure do not cause immediate health effects, other types of exposure create serious health risks. Learn about the different types of radiation exposure to better understand the hazards.


Irradiation is the process of exposing an object to radiation. Usually, the term refers to radiation that serves a specific purpose rather than indicating exposure to background radiation.

Irradiation typically uses ionizing radiation, which has enough energy to remove electrons from atoms or molecules and leads to the creation of charged particles called ions. Examples of ionizing radiation include X-rays, gamma rays, and cosmic rays.


External exposure happens when all or a part of the body is exposed to radiation from an external source, such as the sun or a radiation generator. During the exposure period, the radiation can pass completely through the body, or the body can absorb it.

Minimize radiation doses by assessing each hazard and wearing the appropriate PPE. Accurate dosimetry and following workplace procedures enhance safety.


Internal radiation is another type of exposure caused by radioactive materials entering the body. Internal exposure can happen through inhalation, absorption through the skin, absorption through a wound, and the intake of radiopharmaceuticals used to diagnose or treat medical problems. Once in the body, radioactive materials will continue to emit radiation until the radioactivity weakens or the body excretes the material.


Incorporation occurs when the body’s cells, tissues, or organs uptake radioactive materials. The radioactive material’s chemical properties affect how it moves through the body. Incorporation can happen after external or internal contamination.

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