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Deterministic (or non-stochastic) radiation

This type of radiation damage is related to high dose, short period exposure
The basic properties of deterministic radiation are:
The severity of the effect depends on absorbed dose
There is a threshold dose below which effects do not occur

The threshold for an effect to occur varies from a single dose of 0.5 Gy for bone marrow damage to between 5 and 6 Gy for permanent infertility due to radiation damage to the ovary or testicles. A single does of 1 Gy is likely to make the lens of the eye turn milky while 5 Gy will cause a cataract.

Example of effects due to deterministic radiation damage:
cataract, infertility, burns, radiation sickness etc.

Stochastic radiation

This type of radiation damage is related to low-level, long term exposure to radiation.
The basic properties of stochastic radiation are:
The probability of the effect occurring depends on the absorbed dose
The severity of the effect is independent of the absorbed dose
There is no dose threshold

This means that if you are exposed to large doses it makes the effect more likely to occur but does not increase the severity of the effect.

Examples of effects due to stochastic radiation damage:
radiation induced cancer, leukaemia, genetic effects

© Keith Gibbs 2011