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Ionizing radiation

Ionizing radiation is a type of particle radiation in which an individual particle (for example, a photon, electron, or helium nucleus) carries enough energy to ionize an atom or molecule (that is, to completely remove an electron from its orbit).

If the individual particles do not carry this amount of energy, it is essentially impossible for even a large flood of particles to cause ionization.

These ionizations, if enough occur, can be very destructive to living tissue.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Ionizing radiation", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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