What is Secondary Radiation?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Radiologic technologists can use good techniques to reduce secondary radiation from examinations.
Radiologic technologists can use good techniques to reduce secondary radiation from examinations.

Secondary radiation is a phenomenon that has its origins in the use of X-rays. As X-rays are used for scans on just about any type of substance, the presence of emissions builds up a level of subtle radiation residue that is then emitted is a random manner by the substance in question. Here are some basic facts about secondary radiation, including some ongoing speculation about the role of the radiation in medical conditions and permanent damage to the body.

There is no scientific proof that secondary radiation from X-rays leads to permanent health issues.
There is no scientific proof that secondary radiation from X-rays leads to permanent health issues.

Secondary radiation has been of interest to scientists since the beginning of the 20th century. Around that time, the principle of some sort of radiation emission forming after exposure to focused radiation was first discovered. Over time, the principle has been applied in a number of settings outside the laboratory, including in medicine and construction.

Digital radiography technology allows dentists to take several X-rays of patients' teeth without exposing them to dangerous levels of radiation.
Digital radiography technology allows dentists to take several X-rays of patients' teeth without exposing them to dangerous levels of radiation.

Continued experimentation with this radiation has shown that the phenomenon can be produced with just about any solid, liquid, or gas. All that is required is a focused exposure to X-rays and secondary radiation will develop. Unlike the focused X-ray exposure, there is no way to focus secondary radiation. In fact, the radiation scatter patterns of this type of radiation are so random that using any type of equipment to identify a radiation field around an object must be done quickly before the ionized charge fades away through dispersion.

No evidence exists that a patient will have sustained damage from exposure to secondary radiation, such as from X-rays.
No evidence exists that a patient will have sustained damage from exposure to secondary radiation, such as from X-rays.

Sometimes referred to as scattered or scatter radiation, it is important to note that the production of this form of radiation is just about always a pale version of the originating radiation content of the X-ray scan itself. This type of radiation is certainly lower in energy content than even the weakest of X-ray transmissions, no matter what type of substance has been subjected to the X-ray exposure. There are no recorded cases of any type of sustained damage resulting from exposure to secondary radiation.

Exposure to radiation during pregnancy may cause damage to a developing fetus.
Exposure to radiation during pregnancy may cause damage to a developing fetus.

Since the middle of the 20th century, speculation about tissue or cell damage resulting from continual development of and exposure to secondary radiation through constant interaction with a substance has been discussed. However, there is not any scientific proof that this radiation, even with consistent exposure, leads to any type of permanent health issues. While the phenomenon of this type of radiation continues to be studied in a number of different experiments within a range of environmental settings, the chances of ever finding that secondary radiation directly causes any type of physical damage is very slim.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including InfoBloom, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including InfoBloom, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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    • Radiologic technologists can use good techniques to reduce secondary radiation from examinations.
      Radiologic technologists can use good techniques to reduce secondary radiation from examinations.
    • There is no scientific proof that secondary radiation from X-rays leads to permanent health issues.
      There is no scientific proof that secondary radiation from X-rays leads to permanent health issues.
    • Digital radiography technology allows dentists to take several X-rays of patients' teeth without exposing them to dangerous levels of radiation.
      Digital radiography technology allows dentists to take several X-rays of patients' teeth without exposing them to dangerous levels of radiation.
    • No evidence exists that a patient will have sustained damage from exposure to secondary radiation, such as from X-rays.
      No evidence exists that a patient will have sustained damage from exposure to secondary radiation, such as from X-rays.
    • Exposure to radiation during pregnancy may cause damage to a developing fetus.
      Exposure to radiation during pregnancy may cause damage to a developing fetus.