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The disadvantages of gamma rays

Updated April 17, 2017

Gamma rays are high-frequency waves emitted by stars and radioactive substances. Because the waves can easily pass through most material, avoiding gamma ray exposure requires a shield of lead or concrete. High-intensity gamma-ray bursts can come from bombs, supernovas and equipment used to treat cancer. High levels of gamma ray exposure has negative health effects on living tissue and cells.

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Uses

When gamma rays pass through the human body, they ionise the tissue. This method commonly kills cancerous cells, but gamma ray ionisation can affect healthy cells. When high levels of gamma rays bombard a body, a resulting dangerous ionisation of tissue can cause skin cancer.

Ionisation Dangers

Ionisation from gamma rays can cause three different reactions in living cell tissues. A cell can either perfectly repair itself and continue unharmed, it can die in the process of reproduction or it can repair itself imperfectly, causing it to reproduce abnormally or become radioactive. When a cell repairs itself imperfectly or becomes radioactive, it can develop into leukaemia or a solid tumour.

Gamma Ray Bursts

If a gamma ray burst hit the Earth at high intensity, it would negatively interact with the upper atmosphere, creating nitrogen oxides that would lead to the destruction of the Earth's ozone layer. After a few centuries, the after-effects would cause a storm of cosmic rays to destroy everything on the surface of the Earth.

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About the Author

Megan Kelly started writing professionally in 2007 when she was published in the anthology, "Lit Kids: Mama Bird and the Electric Rabbit" through Mill City Press. She is also a submissions reviewer and grant writer for "Spout Press," an independent magazine in Minneapolis. Kelly is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Minnesota.

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