Feature Article

Harnessing the promise of radiation: The art of reasonableness

Radiation has benefited mankind in many ways, including its use as an energy source and an indispensable tool in medicine. Since the turn of the 20th century, society has sought ways to harness its potential, while at the same time recognizing that radiological exposures need to be carefully controlled. Out of these efforts, and the work of many dedicated professionals, the principles of justification, optimization, and limitation have emerged as guiding concepts.

Justification means that the use of radiation, from any radiation source, must do more good than harm. The concept of optimization calls for the use of radiation at a level that is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Dose constraints, or limitation, are meant to assist in reaching optimization and protection against harm by setting recommended numerical levels of radiation exposure from a particular source or sources. Together, these three principles form the bedrock of the international radiation protection system that drives decision-­making and supports societal confidence that radiation is being used in a responsible manner.

President's Column

Safety: It comes down to perception

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Last month I asked if you’ve ever wondered why nuclear isn’t commonly considered the choice for clean power production. I also provided what I hope will be useful information as you make the case for nuclear in discussions about clean energy. In addition to being the cleanest form of energy today, nuclear is also safe, reliable, and scalable. This month, let’s talk safety.

Like the term “clean,” “safety” can mean something different to everyone. As measured by the number of deaths per unit of electricity produced, nuclear is on the same order of magnitude as “renewables” and other low-carbon sources of energy.

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Letter from the CEO

Low-dose radiation has found its analogue

Craig Piercy

Originally published in the September 2020 issue of Nuclear News.

This issue of Nuclear News is dedicated to highlighting advancements in health physics and radiation protection as well as the contributions of the men and women who serve in these fields. It comes at a time when COVID-19 is providing the entire world with an immersive primer on the science of epidemiology and the importance of risk-informed, performance-based behavior to contain an invisible—yet deadly—antagonist.

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