Preventing and Treating Radiation Injuries and Illness
- The health effects of radiation depend on: the amount of radiation absorbed by the body (the dose), the type of radiation, how the radioactive material got in or on the body, and the length of time a person was exposed. More information...
- The best way to prevent radiation injuries and illness is to get inside as soon as possible, away from the radioactive material outside and shower or wash once inside (self-decontamination).
You should not leave your building or place of shelter until officials or emergency responders have said it is safe, unless you have a life-threatening condition.
- If you have skin burns, nausea, or begin vomiting shortly after radiation exposure, seek medical attention as soon as it is safe to leave your building or place of shelter.
- These may be symptoms of acute radiation syndrome (ARS), which is caused by exposure to large amounts of radiation over a short period of time.
- Symptoms can appear within minutes to several days after you were exposed to large amounts of radiation.
- For more information on ARS, visit The Acute Radiation Syndrome fact sheet
- If you were exposed to a small amount of radiation, you will not see any health effects right away, and may not have any long-term health effects. Radiation health experts will monitor people affected by radiation emergencies for any medical issues.
- Emergency officials will be setting up community reception centers to check people for radiation exposure and contamination. Click here to find out more information about community reception centers.
- Treat non-radiation related cuts, bruises or injuries with first aid. Keep cuts and abrasions covered when washing to keep radioactive material out of the wound.
- For more information on the impact of radiation emergencies on health, go to Possible Health Effects of Radiation Exposure and Contamination .
- Page last updated August 22, 2013
- Page last reviewed August 22, 2013
- Content source: Radiation Studies Branch (RSB), Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects (EHHE), National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Coordinating Center for Environmental Health and Injury Prevention (CCEHIP)
Get email updates
To receive email updates about this page, enter your email address: