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Types Of Radiation

Uranium and radium emit radiation in the form of alpha, beta and gamma rays, as do the following other radioactive elements: actinium, polonium, plutonium and thorium, power plain.
Alpha Radiation: is considered the most dangerous product associated with radon gas. As the atom decays, its nucleus releases alpha particles which have a positive charge, are somewhat affected by magnetic fields, and have very little penetrating power. Because of this lack of penetrating power, an inch of air, or a few sheets of paper, or a person’s skin may stop alpha particles. Alpha particles, which are the mass of two protons and two neutrons, disperse their energy quickly, and can damage molecules as they pass through them. A hazard exists if a person breathes in these particles, or somehow swallows them, such as in drinking water. Alpha radiation can also he found in nuclear power plants.
Beta Radiation: Beta particles, which are also released from the nucleus of a radioactive atom, have a negative charge, and a mass equal to that of an electron. Beta radiation is faster than alpha radiation, and can be drastically affected by the presence of a magnetic field. Beta particles also have more penetrating power than alpha particles, and can penetrate about .5 centimeters into a person’s body.
Gamma Radiation: Gamma rays have no mass, no charge, and a penetrating power weaker than that of either alpha or beta radiation. Gamma rays are not affected by magnetic fields, and can pass right though a human body. They are emitted as photons, can travel at about the speed of light, and behave very much like x-rays. Gamma radiation can also be found in nuclear power plants.
Gamma rays are spontaneously, but not always, emitted from decaying atoms.