YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RADIATION
to protect yourself
to protect your family
to make reasonable social and political choices
By Lauriston S. Taylor
This material is copyrighted © 1990, 1996, but is available for
educational use without permission of the author. Any portion
of the text may be used, with proper referencing to the author, only for
non-profit or educational purpose. For any other use, please contact the
author or editors of this work.
Table of Contents
- INTRODUCTION: The Problem
- PART 1: RADIATION AND THE WORLD
WE LIVE IN
- 1-1 What is radiation?
- 1-2 Where does radiation come from?
- 1-3. What are the benefits of radiation?
- 1-4. Is radiation safe?
- 1-5. How were radiation and its effects
- 1-6. How were radiation safety standards
- 1-7. Is radiation a part of the natural
- 1-8. What radiation exposures do people
- PART 2:
PROTECTION OF RADIATION
WORKERS AND THE PUBLIC
- 2-1 The development of radiation protection
- 2-2 What risk means to the public
- 2-3 Radiation dose limits for people
- 2-4. The radiations we are exposed to
- 2-4.1 X- rays
- 2-4.2 Radioactivity
- 2-4.3 The origin of natural radioactivity
- 2-5 How we are all exposed to ionizing
- 2-5.1 Cosmic radiation
- 2-5.2 Terrestrial gamma radiation
- 2-5.3 Radioactivity in the body
- 2-5.4 Inhaled radioactivity
- 2-5.5 Summary of annual natural radiation
- 2-6 Radiation exposure in medical applications
- 2-7 Radiation exposure from consumer
- 2-8. The effects of exposure to ionizing
- 2-9 Ionizing radiation in the service
- PART 3: RADIATION AND THE PRODUCTION
- 3-1 Electrical power needs of the future
- 3-2 The nuclear alternative
- 3-3 Wastes from nuclear power generation
- 3-3.1. Transportation of nuclear wastes
- 3-3.2 Storage of nuclear wastes
- 3-4 The possibility of nuclear disaster
- SOME CONCLUSIONS
The problem. Today, for many people, the word RADIATION
evokes atomic bombs, nuclear power plant accidents, nuclear wastes, or radioactive
fallout; it summons up the specter of cancer. If they think further about
radiation at all, th ey are more likely to worry about it rather than try
to understand it, objectively and constructively. When people are asked
about their sources of information on radiation, most will cite newspapers,
television, popular magazines, or just casual gossip. These media rarely
try to educate with facts; they tend to emphasize the dangerous and sensational
to appeal to emotions. Thus, it is not surprising that people tend to base
their opinions of radiation on the well-publicized effects of large exposures
from weapons or major accidents. Often they do not distinguish between such
large exposures and everyday medical or industrial exposures to radiation
or those encountered in the natural environment.
This book is designed to enhance your knowledge, to help you make both
sound personal decisions about your own or family members' radiation exposures
and sound socio-political decisions about activities which might carry some
chance of exposing other people to radiation. It is written by a radiation
protectionist who has spent a career studying the science of radiation and
its effects and developing guidelines for protecting us all from radiation
injury. There are some people who think that those wh o are familiar with
a subject must be biased about it and cannot be considered a reliable source
of information. Such suspicious people must reach the logical conclusion
that only the ignorant and inexperienced can be trusted to help when decisions
are t o be made about complex technical matters. That is patently absurd.
If knowledgeable and experienced radiation protectionists have a bias,
it is that uncontrolled use of ionizing radiation can be hazardous --
so can uncontrolled use of almost anything, including common nutrients like
salt and pepper. Radiation protectionists -- some thousands in the US --
devote their collective knowledge, skills, and efforts, to developing ways
to make as safe as practicable the use of radiation in the service of mankind.
We must all recognize that there is no such thing as a bsolute safety in
any human activity. Indeed, the uses of ionizing radiation today involve
smaller risks, overall, than those associated with many activities of everyday
life, including riding in cars, taking baths, and climbing stairs.
Since, literally, no one in the world can be free from exposure to
ionizing radiation, it is important that we all acquire at least some
elementary information on the subjects of radiation and its effects, relying
for guidance on those whose li fe work has enabled them to best understand
it. This book, based on well-established and publicly available facts, attempts
to provide such information -- the kind of information that may enlighten
a discussion, let us say, of the role of x-rays as a par t of dental hygiene.
It is addressed to the reader whose knowledge of radiation may have been
framed by images of mushroom clouds, the ruins of Nagasaki, or cartoon mutant
monsters. It aims to help replace irrational fear with fact-based respect
for r adiation.
This book consists of three parts.
- Part 1 provides a simple, broad-brush treatment of what ionizing
radiation is, the different kinds of radiation and their properties, and
how radiation is absorbed in the various materials we use to protect people
from excessive exposure. It tells about the history of radiation and radiation
protection philosophy and practices. And it describes the many sources
of radiation to which the people of the US, and the world, are exposed.
- Part 2 provides some more detailed technical and medical information
in language accessible to all. It is designed to answer some of the questions
frequently asked by the public and to correct some of the errors made by
the media. Both Part 1 and Part 2 are based on facts that have been well-established
in peer-reviewed scientific reports.
- Part 3 deals with electrical energy, the shortage of which is
world-wide. The generation of electricity using nuclear power is adequately
within current technical capability, understanding, and control, but it
is a subject fraught with politi cal, social, and emotional issues. This
book deals only with the technical aspects for which specific information
Since this book is addressed to the general reader, who comes to it with
no specific knowledge of radiation technology, the technical terms used
must be defined. They are discussed and explained in everyday language as
The theses of this book, outlined briefly, are:
- Radioactivity -- and hence radiation --exists in virtually everything
and is, therefore, part of life.
- Excessive consumption of, or exposure to, otherwise useful substances
or agents presents some degree of risk to life.
- The relationship between radiation and risk, indeed their very definitions,
may be distorted through ignorance or to serve some purpose other than
enlightenment. Such distortions can lead to unnecessary concern and may
cause actual harm
- The best way to remedy this situation is through education. Those who
are informed must enable others to learn the facts and to understand what
the facts mean, so that we all can make reasonable decisions on health
care, environmental control, power supply, and other social issues.
Introduction and TOC
2 3 4
5 6 7