Radiation: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Dental X-ray Plates
The world has dramatically changed since people began to tamper with the atom. In a span of a few decades, scientists discovered different means to isolate isotopes and characterize their radioactivity. Man-made isotopes of varying masses and energies have many applications in daily life, research, medicine, industry, and weapons manufacturing.

Medicine

There’s no denying that radiation has useful applications in everyday life and outside energy and weaponry. But, its role in medicine is most notable. Ionizing radiation has helped in the diagnosis and treatment of various types of cancers. The knowledge of radiation in medicine is still evolving, and researchers are yet to find preventative measures to counter the side effects and obvious implications of low-level radiation.

Energy

Hand in hand with research, nuclear power plants operate to produce nuclear energy to generate heat, either for commercial use or to propel ships. The nuclear fuel cycle does not give rise to significant radiation exposure for the public, but working in power plants present many risks.

Power plants also routinely produce radioactive gases and liquid wastes, which have a range of environmental impacts. While regarded as a renewable, and in fact, infinite source of energy, accidents wreak havoc on the surrounding environment and cause health and genetic issues that span generations, as evidenced by the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.

The discovery of the long-term effects of radiation exposure has led governments to regulate nuclear energy production heavily. Nuclear reactors across the world are routinely inspected to ensure safe operations and strict compliances of energy workers. There are various programs to assist nuclear energy workers and their families, including housing benefits, incentives, and EEOICPA claims.

Weapons

Nuclear weapons and bombs represent the ugliest side to radiation. A single atomic bomb detonated in the troposphere can release immense amounts of energy, thermal and ionizing radiation, and destructive bursts of residual energy and radiation. The physical damage and social implications of nuclear weapons have been a contentious topic since the Atomic Age was born. While an international treaty of several nations prevents the spread of nuclear weapons and technology, there are endless possibilities and uncertainties.

Nuclear power has become both an ally and enemy of humanity. The responsibility to protect the public and environment from its wide-reaching effects lies on governments and agencies involved.