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What are some negative effects of gamma rays?

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Quick Answer

Depending on the types of exposure, the negative effects of gamma rays vary from skin rashes to cancer. High doses of gamma rays can cause death.

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Gamma rays are the most powerful forms of radiation because they can penetrate skin, wood, paper and other matter. They can cause severe damage to organs if ingested, inhaled or absorbed. Mild exposure to gamma rays may result in something small like a skin rash but it is the high doses of exposure that pose the biggest health risk. Low doses of gamma ray exposure are still dangerous, including an increase in cancer, decreased fertility or cataracts. From strong sources to long-term exposure, gamma rays can cause radiation poisoning, which can result in cancer. Heavy doses of gamma ray exposure can result in death within just a few days to a few months. Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) results from long-term exposure to gamma rays and early symptoms include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Long-term symptoms of ARS include infection, bleeding, weight loss and marrow depletion. Surviving ARS depends upon the level of exposure to radiation and recovery is a long process, taking years in some cases. Embryos are the most sensitive to gamma ray exposure, and children tend to be more sensitive to exposure than adults.

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