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Technology Corner:  What is the difference between Ionizing and Non-Ionizing Radiation?

All energy is radiation. There are two types, known as ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, and both are omnipresent on Earth. The characteristics and differences between both ionizing and non-ionizing are important to understand, given both the potential harm and usefulness of radiation upon the human body. While both are potentially harmful, ionizing radiation is more dangerous than non-ionizing radiation.
Ionizing Radiation: Ionization is the process by which electrons are removed from their orbit around a particular atom, causing that atom to become charged, or ionized. This process can occur when radiation of sufficient strength interacts with normal atoms. This kind of radiation can cause molecular damage and the unchecked cellular growth known as cancer. If exposed to human reproductive organs, ionizing radiation can also lead to future birth defects in unborn children.
Non-Ionizing Radiation:  Radiation that is not powerful enough to trigger this process is known as non-ionizing, and is capable instead of simply exciting the movement of atoms and heating them up. Examples of non-ionizing radiation include infrared, microwaves, and light along the visible spectrum. It is  capable of exciting atoms and in turn heating them up. Exposure to types of non-ionizing radiation whose wavelengths are smaller than the body can lead to dangerous burns. This is why exposure to the sun's rays causes the skin to cook and eventually burn.
The non-heating effects of non-ionizing radiation cause damage to cell walls allowing leakage leading to genetic damage, reproductive defects, cancer, neurological degeneration and nervous system dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, cognitive effects, protein and peptide damage, kidney damage, and developmental effects.  Report on Non-Ionizing and Ionizing Effects