Radioactivity is actually a natural phenomenon. Every day your body receives a dose of radiation from the earth and the cosmos. That dose is so small that there is no danger to your health.
Exposure to an increased dose of radiation can lead to various conditions, including different types of cancer. That’s because radiation damages the cells of the body.
The main risks for the population in a nuclear accident are long-term risks (cancer and genetic abnormalities). The chance of complications (but not their severity) increases as a function of the radiation exposure dose.
With radioactive material is released in the air, water or soil, there is a possibility of contamination or radiation:
- In case of contamination, radioactive particles have fallen on your skin or clothing (external) or you have inhaled or swallowed them (internal).
- In case of irradiation, there’s no direct contact with radioactive particles, instead they irradiate your body from a distance. This can be compared to taking an X-ray, where you are exposed to a limited dose of radiation.
The best way to protect yourself against contamination or radiation is sheltering.