Heath Effects for Different Radiation Levels

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Please Note: Radiation Absorbed Dose, RADs (R) is an outdated form of Radiation Measurement. This document has been modified to use Sieverts, a dose rate for Biological Matter and the current accepted world wide form dose rate for biological matter.

The following is a list of heath effects for various radiation exposure levels. The levels listed are accumulated over a short period of time, one massive dose at one time. Do not think you can go outside, expose yourself to 500mSv an hour (50 R) and be ok. 500mSv an hour (50 R) is 35Sv, (3500 R) you will have died within 2 days. Be aware of your surroundings.

Acute radiation exposures and chronic radiation exposure are different. These health effects are for acute radiation effects over a short period of time, hence acute.

The following is compiled from FM 3-7. NBC Field Handbook, 1994. FM 8-9. NATO Handbook on the Medical Aspects of NBC Defensive Operations, 1996. FM 8-10-7. Health Services Support in a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Environment, 1996. It is instructive in outlining the levels of radiation and their health effects.
It has also been modified for Sieverts. New studies since the publications of these documents have shown that the human body can in-fact take more radiation than was previously thought. This means that the RAD numbers will be off anywhere from a few thousand, but the Sievert numbers will be correct.


1-2Sv (30 to 70 R) From 6-12 hours: none to slight incidence of transient headache and nausea; vomiting in up to 5 percent of personnel in upper part of dose range. Mild lymphocyte depression within 24 hours. Full recovery expected.

2-6Sv (70 to 150 R) From 2-20 hours: transient mild nausea and vomiting in 5 to 30 percent of personnel. Potential for delayed traumatic and surgical wound healing, minimal clinical effect. Moderate drop in lymphocycte, platelet, and granulocyte counts. Increased susceptibility to opportunistic pathogens. Full recovery expected.

6-8Sv (150 to 300 R )From 2 hours to three days: transient to moderate nausea and vomiting in 20 to 70 percent; mild to moderate fatigability and weakness in 25 to 60 percent of personnel. At 3 to 5 weeks: medical care required for 10 to 50%. At high end of range, death may occur to maximum 10%. Anticipated medical problems include infection, bleeding, and fever. Wounding or burns will geometrically increase morbidity and mortality.

8-12Sv (300 to 530 R) From 2 hours to three days: transient to moderate nausea and vomiting in 50 to 90 percent; mild to moderate fatigability in 50 to 90 percent of personnel. At 2 to 5 weeks: medical care required for 10 to 80%. At low end of range, less than 10% deaths; at high end, death may occur for more than 50%. Anticipated medical problems include frequent diarrheal stools, anorexia, increased fluid loss, ulceration. Increased infection susceptibility during immunocompromised time-frame. Moderate to severe loss of lymphocytes. Hair loss after 14 days.

12-30Sv (530 to 830 R) From 2 hours to two days: moderate to severe nausea and vomiting in 80 to 100 percent of personnel; From 2 hours to six weeks: moderate to severe fatigability and weakness in 90 to 100 percent of personnel. At 10 days to 5 weeks: medical care required for 50 to 100%. At low end of range, death may occur for more than 50% at six weeks. At high end, death may occur for 99% of personnel. Anticipated medical problems include developing pathogenic and opportunistic infections, bleeding, fever, loss of appetite, GI ulcerations, bloody diarrhea, severe fluid and electrolyte shifts, capillary leak, hypotension. Combined with any significant physical trauma, survival rates will approach zero.

30+Sv (830 R Plus) From 30 minutes to 2 days: severe nausea, vomiting, fatigability, weakness, dizziness, and disorientation; moderate to severe fluid imbalance and headache. Bone marrow total depletion within days. CNS symptoms are predominant at higher radiation levels. Few, if any, survivors even with aggressive and immediate medical attention.

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