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Adv Space Res. 1984;4(10):175-85.

Unique radiobiological aspects of high-LET radiation.

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  • 1DFVLR, Inst. Flugmedizin, Abt. Biophysik, Koln, FRG.


Since the beg inning of manned space flight the potentially unique radiobiological properties of the heavy ions of the cosmic radiation had been, apart from possible interactions of radiation effects with biological effects of weightlessness, of major concern with respect to the assessment of radiation hazards in manned space flight. Radiobiological findings obtained from space flight experiments and ground based experiments with densely ionizing radiation are discussed, which suggest qualitative differences between the radiobiological mechanisms of sparsely ionizing and densely ionizing radiation. These findings comprise the observation of a long lateral range of radiobiological effectiveness around tracks of single heavy ions, the observation of micro lesions induced in biological targets by the penetration of heavy ions, the nonadditivity of radiobiological effects from sparsely and densely ionizing radiation, the different kinetics for the expression of late effects induced by sparsely or densely ionizing radiation, and the observation of a reversed dose rate effect for early and late effects induced by densely ionizing radiation. These findings bear on the radiation protection standards to be installed for a general public in manned space flight and on the design of experiments, which intend to contribute to their specification.

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