Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Public needs better understanding of nuclear safety

24.11.2006
The public needs to have a better understanding of the safety of nuclear radiation, an Oxford physicist has claimed. While the public is happy to accept the benefits of high doses of radiation in medicine, fears of radiation associated with a civil nuclear power programme are disproportionate.

Wade Allison, Professor of Physics at Oxford University, argues that this public apprehension of anything nuclear, which was fostered during the Cold War, is not justifiable and, with the onset of climate change, nuclear radiation needs to be assessed in more realistic terms when difficult choices between power sources have to be made.

Professor Allison said: ‘Current environmental regulations that attempt to keep variations in radiation exposure to a fraction of the natural level are over-cautions by a factor of about 500 to 1000. This factor is unnecessary and unaffordable. In no other field is such a safety factor applied.’

In his lecture, ‘How dangerous is ionising radiation?’ given on 24 November 2006 as part of the mainstream Colloquium series in the Oxford Physics Department, he shows that in fact there is good evidence to demonstrate that life has evolved immunity to the dangers of radiation up to a certain threshold. Below this, any damage is completely repaired.

A value for this threshold may be determined from the health records of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example. The existence of this threshold, or non-linearity as he describes it, is supported by data on the acute victims of Chernobyl, on laboratory experiments, on radon in homes, on the recovery of patients receiving radiotherapy – indeed, without this non-linearity, current radiotherapy treatment would not be effective.

Professor Allison argues that this threshold behaviour is the norm, describing, for example, how people recover completely from minor cuts and bruises, loss of blood, body temperature excursions and so on, up to a certain threshold. Nuclear radiation, or ionising radiation as he more correctly describes it, occurs naturally in the environment, and mankind has adapted to deal with it by developing repair mechanisms that prevent long-term damage.

Professor Allison said: ‘Members of the public tolerate radiation exposures for their own health which are 1000 times higher per day than those that are currently deemed barely acceptable in the environment per year. A far greater tolerance to radiation in the environment is needed if the health of the planet is to be treated with the same respect and judgment as personal health.’

Barbara Hott | alfa
Further information:
http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/nuclearsafety

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New survey hints at exotic origin for the Cold Spot
26.04.2017 | Royal Astronomical Society

nachricht NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms
25.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory

26.04.2017 | Life Sciences

New survey hints at exotic origin for the Cold Spot

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA examines newly formed Tropical Depression 3W in 3-D

26.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>