Science, Tech, Math › Science Examples of Radiation (and What's Not Radiation) Understanding What Radiation Is (and Is not) Share Flipboard Email Print This is the symbol for radioactivity. Radioactive materials emit radiation, but so do many non-radioactive objects. Yagi Studio/Getty Images Science Chemistry Physical Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated January 29, 2020 Radiation is the emission and propagation of energy. A substance does not need to be radioactive in order to emit radiation because radiation encompasses all forms of energy, not just those produced by radioactive decay. However, all radioactive materials do emit radiation. Key Takeaways: Radiation Examples Radiation is emitted whenever energy is propagated.A substance does not need to be radioactive to emit radiation.Not all isotopes of element emit radiation.Common examples of radiation include light, heat, and alpha particles. Radiation Examples Here are some examples of different types of radiation: ultraviolet light from the sunheat from a stove burnervisible light from a candlex-rays from an x-ray machinealpha particles emitted from the radioactive decay of uraniumsound waves from your stereomicrowaves from a microwave ovenelectromagnetic radiation from your cell phoneultraviolet light from a black lightbeta particle radiation from a sample of strontium-90gamma radiation from a supernovamicrowave radiation from your wifi routerradio wavesa laser beam As you can see, most of the examples on this list are examples from the electromagnetic spectrum, but the energy source doesn't need to be light or magnetism to qualify as radiation. Sound, after all, is a different form of energy. Alpha particles are moving, energetic helium nuclei (particles). Examples of Things That Are Not Radiation It's important to realize isotopes are not always radioactive. For example deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen that is not radioactive. A glass of heavy water at room temperature does not emit radiation. (A warm glass of heavy water emits radiation as heat.) A more technical example has to do with the definition of radiation. An energy source may be capable of emitting radiation, but if the energy doesn't propagate outward, it's not radiating. Take, for example, a magnetic field. If you hook up a coil of wire to a battery and form an electromagnet, the magnetic field it generates (actually an electromagnetic field) is a form a radiation. However, the magnetic field surrounding the Earth is not typically considered radiation because it's not "detached" or propagating outward off into space. Source Kwan-Hoong Ng (October 2003). "Non-Ionizing Radiations – Sources, Biological Effects, Emissions and Exposures" (PDF). Proceedings of the International Conference on Non-Ionizing Radiation at UNITEN ICNIR2003 Electromagnetic Fields and Our Health.