Nuclear techniques to monitor—and prevent—plastic pollution

May 25, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News
Plastic waste on a Galapagos beach. Sunlight, wind, and waves break down large plastic debris into smaller and smaller pieces to become microplastics. (Photo: F. Oberhaensli/IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency has created a new program, NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics), to address the global environmental impact of plastic pollution in oceans. It uses nuclear technology to monitor pollution and also to decrease the volume of plastic waste by using irradiation to complement traditional plastic recycling methods.

White paper shines light on significance of irradiation

November 25, 2020, 12:00PMNuclear News

With input from the American Nuclear Society and other organizations, the International Irradiation Association has published a white paper summarizing all of the significant uses of radiation processing and the global economic, social, and environmental benefits that arise from the technologies. The nontechnical document, Uses and Applications of Radiation Processing, is aimed at people and organizations that are not familiar with radiation processing, highlighting how irradiation is routinely used in an array of diverse and beneficial applications.

“Though largely unknown by the public, radiation processing, or ‘irradiation,’ touches everyone’s life,” states the paper, which was released on November 24.

The 11-page white paper goes on to summarize the applications of radiation processing, including medical sterilization, food irradiation, wastewater treatment, and other uses. An overview of the different technologies used to irradiate materials, including gamma, electron beam, and X-ray sources, is also provided.

The Mother of Radiation: Marie Curie

November 7, 2018, 7:57AMANS Nuclear CafeKaitlyn Butler

Marie CurieThe start of Marie Curie's story isn't like most of the other scientists that  had made a name for themselves throughout history, mostly because she was a grown woman by the start of the 20th century. But she was the first woman to do a lot of things, including getting a Ph.D. from a university in France, and winning a Nobel Prize. She was also the first person ever to win a Nobel Prize in two different fields of science. To say she pushed the societal and scientific boundaries of her era is an understatement.

Food Irradiation Can Save Thousands of Lives Each Year

April 29, 2014, 4:57PMANS Nuclear CafeLenka Kollar

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 people get food poisoning each year in the United States and that 3000 die from foodborne illness. Food irradiation can drastically decrease these numbers by killing harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella in meat and produce. The U.S. government endorses the use of food irradiation, but does not educate the public about its benefits. Food irradiation has not caught on in the United States because consumers fear that radiation will mutate the food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a label (pictured below) for any food that has been irradiated.

A Fukushima investigative scorecard

March 5, 2012, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeLeslie Corrice

Since the Fukushima accident last March, several Japanese investigative groups have been created to try to establish what actually happened. As the number of groups has grown, some confusion has understandably emerged. Here's a "scorecard" of the five primary Japanese investigative commissions, with a brief description of each.

ANS to hold teacher workshop in Phoenix, AZ

February 2, 2012, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

ANS November 2011 Teachers Workshop

Hands-on activity during a November 2011 ANS Teachers Workshop

The American Nuclear Society's Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information and the ANS Outreach Department will be sponsoring a one-day teacher workshop on Sunday, February 26, in Phoenix, Ariz. The workshop-Detecting Radiation in Our Radioactive World-is intended for science educators (including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, physical science, life science, environmental, and general science teachers) at the high school and middle school levels. The workshop will be held prior to WM2012, the international waste management conference that takes place annually in Phoenix.

ANS to hold teacher workshop in Washington, DC

September 23, 2011, 6:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The American Nuclear Society's Public Education Program will be sponsoring a one-day teacher workshop on Saturday, October 29, in Washington, DC. The workshop-Detecting Radiation in Our Radioactive World-is intended for science educators (including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, physical science, life science, environmental, and general science teachers) at the high school and middle school levels. The workshop will be held prior to the ANS Winter Conference, October 30-November 3, 2011.

Food Irradiation: A Global Perspective & Future Prospects

June 9, 2011, 6:00AMANS Nuclear CafeRonald Eustice

Radura symbol used for irradiated food in the United States

The use of food irradiation has expanded globally during the past decade and is gaining renewed momentum as a steadily increasing amount of irradiated food enters commercial channels in the United States and worldwide. Although irradiated fruits, vegetables, and poultry have been available commercially since the early 1990s, the introduction of irradiated ground beef by Huisken Meat Company in Minnesota during 2000 significantly increased awareness and interest in the technology.

Food irradiation, explained

December 23, 2010, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeJoseph Butterweck

Let's talk about food irradiation, which has made some in the general public fearful simply because a form of the word "radiation" is involved. Irradiation is used to destroy harmful bacteria and parasites that might be inadvertently present in some food matter. Irradiation makes the food safer for human consumption and, at low levels, it extends food's shelf life and can be used to control insects.