Preparedness and Response to a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency


Glossary over Preparedness and Response to a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency


The smallest particle of an element that still conserves the chemical properties of that element. Atoms are composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons. (Source: GreenFacts)


Any one of a group of diseases that occur when cells in the body become abnormal and have the potential to spread and establish growth in nearby tissues and other parts of the body (malignancy). (Source: GreenFacts )


Cell Nucleus

The center of a cell, where [most] of the DNA, packaged in chromosomes, is contained. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Genetics Glossary  )



An electric charge (q or Q) is the quantity of unbalanced electricity in an object (either positive or negative). It is interpreted as an excess or deficiency of electrons. Matter that possesses a charge is influenced by and produces electromagnetic fields.

Electrons, by convention have an elementary charge of -1. Ions are either positively or negatively charged. The unit of measurement of the charge of an object is the coulomb, which represents 6.24 x 1018 elementary charges. (Source: GreenFacts)


A substance that is either present in an environment where it does not belong or is present at levels that might cause harmful effects to humans or the environment. (Source: GreenFacts)


An electron is a particle that carries a negative electrical charge. Electrons form the outer "reactive" shell of atoms which interacts with other atoms and form the chemical bonds that hold molecules together. Flow of electrons between two points generates an electric current. (Source: GreenFacts )

Food web

The interconnected food chains (feeding relationships) in an ecosystem. Plants, herbivores, and carnivores all form parts of the food web. (Source: GreenFacts)



The act of swallowing something through eating, drinking, or mouthing objects. A hazardous substance can enter the body this way. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

International Atomic Energy Agency

"The IAEA is the world´s center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s "Atoms for Peace" organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies." (Source: IAEA website  )


Iodine is a trace element that is necessary for the body to produce the thyroid hormone.

It is a bluish-black, lustrous nonmetallic solid element that mainly occurs in nature under its stable form, iodine-127. Stable iodine is naturally present for instance in seaweeds, sponges, and shell fish. It is also artificially added to salt.



Atoms of the same element that have the same number of protons (same atomic number) but different numbers of neutrons (different atomic masses).

Isotopes have the same chemical properties but have different physical and nuclear properties.

Examples of isotopes are plutonium-238, plutonium-239, plutonium-240, and plutonium-241. Each acts chemically like plutonium but they have 144, 145, 146, and 147 neutrons, respectively. (Source: GreenFacts)



A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )



Energy moving in the form of particles or waves. Familiar radiations are heat, light, radio waves, and microwaves. Ionizing radiation is a very high-energy form of electromagnetic radiation. (Source: US Center for Disease Control and Prevention Glossary of Radiological Terms   )


Radioactive material

Material that contains unstable (radioactive) atoms that give off [ionizing] radiation as they decay. (Source: CDC Glossary of Radiological Terms   )

Radioactive waste

Any waste that emits energy as rays, waves, streams or energetic particles.

Radioactive materials are often mixed with hazardous waste, from nuclear reactors, research institutions, or hospitals. (Source: US EPA Terms of Environment  )



The spontaneous emission of ionizing radiation from the nucleus of an unstable atom. Radioisotopes lose particles and energy through this process. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Energy Information Administration Glossary   )



Individuals or groups that are affected by a decision and have an interest in its outcome. (Source: TDM Encyclopedia Glossary   )

The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection

The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) is an advisory body, established in 1969, that advises the United Nations (UN) system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.

At present GESAMP is jointly sponsored by nine UN organizations with responsibilities relating to the marine environment, and they utilize GESAMP as a mechanism for coordination and collaboration among them. GESAMP functions are to conduct and support marine environmental assessments, to undertake in-depth studies, analyses, and reviews of specific topics, and to identify emerging issues regarding the state of the marine environment. GESAMP itself today consists of 16 experts, drawn from a wide range of relevant disciplines, who act in an independent and individual capacity. Studies and assessments are usually carried out by dedicated working groups, most of whose members are not sitting members of GESAMP but part of the broader GESAMP network.


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Threshold (in an ecosystem)

The level of magnitude of a system process at which sudden or rapid change occurs. (Source: Glossary of terms  )


Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland consists of two bodies like small walnuts; they are connected by an isthmus beside the larynx (voice box). The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which regulate the metabolism of all cells in the body. Disorders of the thyroid gland are characterized by the inability to produce or release sufficient thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) or the overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). (Source: EMCOM Endocrine Disruptors Glossary  )



Naturally occurring heavy metal that is denser than lead.

Uranium is radioactive and is the principal fuel of nuclear reactors. (Source: GreenFacts )

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