Acute radiation syndrome  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Acute radiation syndrome (ARS), also known as radiation poisoning, radiation sickness or radiation toxicity, is a collection of health effects which present within 24 hours of exposure to high amounts of ionizing radiation. The radiation causes cellular degradation due to damage to DNA and other key molecular structures within the cells in various tissues; this destruction, particularly as it affects ability of cells to divide normally, in turn causes the symptoms. The symptoms can begin within one or two hours and may last for several months.

History

Acute effects of ionizing radiation were first observed when Wilhelm Röntgen intentionally subjected his fingers to X-rays in 1895. He published his observations concerning the burns that developed, though he misattributed them to ozone, a free radical produced in air by X-rays. Other free radicals produced within the body are now understood to be more important. His injuries healed later.

The Radium Girls were female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials with self-luminous paint at the United States Radium factory in Orange, New Jersey, around 1917.

Ingestion of radioactive materials caused many radiation-induced cancers in the 1930s, but no one was exposed to high enough doses at high enough rates to bring on acute radiation syndrome. Marie Curie died of aplastic anemia caused by radiation, a possible early incident of acute radiation syndrome.

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in high acute doses of radiation to a large number of Japanese, allowing for greater insight into its symptoms and dangers. Red Cross Hospital Surgeon, Terufumi Sasaki led intensive research into the syndrome in the weeks and months following the Hiroshima bombings. Dr Sasaki and his team were able to monitor the effects of radiation in patients of varying proximities to the blast itself, leading to the establishment of three recorded stages of the syndrome. Within 25–30 days of the explosion, the Red Cross surgeon noticed a sharp drop in white blood cell count and established this drop, along with symptoms of fever, as prognostic standards for Acute Radiation Syndrome. Actress Midori Naka, who was present during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, was the first incident of radiation poisoning to be extensively studied. Her death on August 24, 1945 was the first death ever to be officially certified as a result of acute radiation syndrome (or "Atomic bomb disease").

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Acute radiation syndrome" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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