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From exposure to toxic effects

Health effects from ionizing radiation

​The effects of toxic nuclear agents on health can be of two different types: radiological or chemical. Within each category, one can distinguish deterministic effects (i.e. threshold effects) from random or stochastic effects (i.e. effects considered without threshold).

Published on 18 March 2015

The main characteristics of deterministic and stochastic effects are summarized in the table below:

​Deterministic effects​Stochastic effects
Threshold​determinedcurrently considered equal to zero
Severity of the impairment​proportional to the doseindependent of the dose
​Type of effecttissue specificcancer – non-specific
​Occurence​always occurs if the dose is higher than the thresholdprobability is proportional to the dose
​Latency period​short or long depending on the tissueseveral years or decades
​Reversibility​possible depending on the tissue and the dosenon-reversible​