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Definition: ionizing radiation


When electromagnetic radiation is ionizing, it breaks the atomic bond and creates ions, which are atoms and molecules with fewer electrons or a greater number of electrons than they normally have. Examples are gamma rays, x-rays and ultraviolet light.

In contrast, non-ionizing radiation does not have enough energy to alter the electron structure; however, it may be harmful depending on the amount of exposure. See ion and electromagnetic hypersensitivity.