Exposure to all types of ionizing radiation, from both natural and man-made sources, increases the risk of various types of malignancy including leukaemia and a number of solid tumours. Risks increase when the exposure occurs at a young age and also when the exposure amount is higher. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and in particular solar radiation, is carcinogenic to humans, causing all major types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. Avoiding excessive exposure, use of sunscreen and protective clothing are effective preventive measures. UV-emitting tanning devices are now also classified as carcinogenic to humans based on their association with skin and ocular melanoma cancers.
Radiation is used in medicine and can help save lives as well as prevent the need for more invasive procedures. However, inappropriate use may cause harm because of unnecessary and unintended radiation doses for patients. Radiologic tests and procedures should be appropriately prescribed and properly performed to reduce unnecessary radiation doses, particularly in children.
Residential exposure can also arise from radon, a naturally radioactive gas sometime present in soil and building materials increase risk of lung cancers. Radon levels in homes can be reduced by improving the ventilation and sealing floors and walls.