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Irradiation is the process by which an object is exposed to radiation. The exposure can originate from various sources, including natural sources. Most frequently the term refers to ionizing radiation, and to a level of radiation that will serve a specific purpose, rather than radiation exposure to normal levels of background radiation. The term irradiation usually excludes the exposure to non-ionizing radiation, such as microwaves from cellular phones or electromagnetic waves emitted by radio and TV receivers and power supplies.
If administered at appropriate levels, all of these forms of radiation can be used to sterilize objects, a technique used in the production of medical instruments and disposables, such as syringes as well as in the disinfestation and sterilization of food. Small doses of ionizing radiation (electron beam processing, X-rays and gamma rays) may be used to kill bacteria in food, or other organic material, including blood. Irradiation also includes (by the principle) microwave heating. Food irradiation, while effective, is seldom used due to public relations problems.
In 2011 researchers found that irradiation was successful in the novel theranostic technique involving the co-treatment with heptamethine dyes to elucidate tumor cells and attenuate growth with minimal side effects. 
Ion implantation 
Ion irradiation is routinely used to implant impurity atoms into materials, especially semiconductors, to modify their properties. This process, usually known as ion implantation, is a very important step in the manufacturing of silicon integrated circuits.
Ion irradiation 
Industrial chemistry 
Irradiation can furthermore be used in cross-linking of plastics or to improve material qualities of semi-precious stones. Due to its efficiency, electron beam processing is often used in the irradiation treatment of polymer-based products to improve the mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties, and often adding unique properties. Cross-linked polyethylene pipe (PEX), high-temperature products such as tubing and gaskets, wire and cable jacket curing, curing of composite materials, and crosslinking of tires are a few examples.
During the 2001 anthrax attacks, the US Postal Service irradiated mail to protect members of the US government and other possible targets. This can be of some concern to people, including artists; according to the ART in Embassies program "incoming mail is irradiated, and the process destroys slides, transparencies and disks."
After its discovery by Lewis Stadler at the University of Missouri, irradiation of seed and plant germplasm has resulted in creating many of the most widely grown strains of food crops worldwide. The process, which consists of striking plant seeds or germplasm by radiation in the form of X-rays, UV waves, heavy-ion beams, gamma rays, essentially "mixes" the genes already existing in genome. The UN has been active in this through the International Atomic Energy Agency. Irradiation is also employed to prevent sprouting of certain cereals, onions, potatoes and garlic. Appropriate irradiation doses are also used to produce sterile insects to be used in the sterile insect technique.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recognizes irradiation as an important technology to protecting consumers. Fresh meat and poultry including whole or cut up birds, skinless poultry, pork chops, roasts, stew meat, liver, hamburgers, ground meat, and ground poultry are approved for irradiation.
Alexander Litvinenko was intentionally poisoned with Po-210 which subsequently killed with the very large internal doses of radiation he was receiving.
- "Food Standards Agency - Irradiated food". Retrieved 2008-01-26.
- "Spinach and Peanuts, With a Dash of Radiation" article by Andrew Marin in The New York Times February 1, 2009
- "Information for patients needing irradiated blood" by National Blood Service
- Tan X, Luo S, Wang D, et al. A NIR heptamethine Dye with intrinsic cancer targeting, imaging and photosynthesizing properties. Journal of Biomaterials China. 33-7 (2011), pp. 2230-2239.
- F. Pene, E. Courtine, A. Cariou, J.P. Mira. Toward theranostics. Crit Care Med, 37 (2009), pp. S50–S58
- Bly, J.H. "Electron Beam Processing", Yardley, PA: International Information Associates, 1988.
- International Database on Insect Disinfestation and Sterilization, Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture website, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, plus the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- Irradiation and Food Safety, U.S. Drug and Food Administration. Retrieved Jan. 5, 2010.
- "TFP > Alexander Litvinenko Assassination". Retrieved 2009-10-18.
- STASI: In Kopfhöhe ausgerichtet. Article by Peter Wensierski in Der Spiegel 20/1999, May 17, 1999
- Tödliche Strahlung. Die Staatssicherheit der DDR steht im Verdacht, Regimegegner radioaktiv verseucht zu haben. Article by Paul Leonhard in Junge Freiheit April 14, 2000
- Industrial, Medical & Educational Uses of Radiation
- Safety and Health Topics: Radiation
- Radiation Protection- US EPA
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- North American Seed Bank (NASB)