Radiation and Your Health

Radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels through space at the speed of light. This energy has an electric field and a magnetic field associated with it, and has wave-like properties. You could also call radiation “electromagnetic waves”.

This radiation is characterized in two forms—ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation is a form of energy that acts by removing electrons from atoms and molecules of materials that include air, water, and living tissue. Ionizing radiation can travel unseen and pass through these materials.

Non-ionizing radiation is a form of radiation with less energy than ionizing radiation. Unlike ionizing radiation, non-ionizing radiation does not remove electrons from atoms or molecules of materials that include air, water, and living tissue.


Do you have additional questions about radiation? Contact CDC-INFO online.

Monday-Friday 8:00am-8:00pm EST: 
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)
TTY 888-232-6348

In English or Spanish

Radon Communication Toolkit

Radon Communication Toolkit

Radon Toolkit for Public Health Professionals

Radon and Your Health

Radon in the Home

Learn steps you can take to measure and reduce radon levels in your home.

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Cell Phones and Radiation

Cell Phones and Radiation

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Wearable Technology

Wearable Computers and Wearable Technology

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Radiation in Medicine, Everyday Objects, Nature, Nuclear Weapons Testing

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Effects of Radiation Dose, Effects on the Body

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What is Radiation?, Measuring Radiation, Radiation Safety


Page last reviewed: December 7, 2015