Fear of Nuclear – Part 2

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Roger Graves

In a recent post I discussed the exaggerated fears our society seems to have about nuclear power. One of the primary objections to nuclear power is the belief that all ionizing radiation, at whatever level of intensity, is harmful and carries a risk of cancer. This essay is concerned with the effects that ionizing radiation has on human beings, and in particular whether low doses are harmful.

First, let me say that, although I am a physicist, I am not a medical physicist and definitely not a cancer specialist. Many other, far more knowledgeable people have written on this subject, so what I write here should be considered largely as a summary of other people’s work.

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There are two schools of thought on the effect of ionizing radiation on human beings. The first holds that all ionizing radiation is harmful, and that any exposure…

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