It is a common practice to estimate the number of particle-track traversals per cell or cell nucleus as the product of the ion's linear energy transfer (LET) and cell area. This practice ignores the effects of track width due to the lateral extension of δ rays. We make estimates of the number of particle-track traversals per cell, which includes the effects of δ rays using radial cutoffs in the ionization density about an ion's track of 1 mGy and 1 cGy. Calculations for laboratory and space radiation exposures are discussed, and show that the LET approximation provides a large underestimate of the actual number of particle-track traversals per cell from high-charge and energy (HZE) ions. In light of the current interest in the mechanisms of radiation action, including signal transduction and cytoplasmic damage, these results should be of interest for radiobiology studies with HZE ions.

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