Ionizing radiation is a part of Canada's environment. It can occur as electromagnetic rays (i.e., X-rays and gamma rays) or particles (i.e., alpha and beta particles) and originates from either natural (e.g. from the radioactive decay of natural radioactive substances such as radon gas and its decay products) or artificial sources. People can be exposed externally (e.g., X-rays), or internally if a radioactive substance is inhaled or ingested or absorbed through intact skin. Wounds contaminated by radioactive material can also be a source of exposure. Thus, all Canadians are continually exposed to radiation from these sources.
Health Canada has several measurement programs in place to protect the health of Canadians by continually monitoring radiation levels nationwide. More specialized programs focus on specific work practices to ensure that those workers are adequately protected.
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