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Chapter 7: radiation

The issues

Many people have negative attitudes towards the use of radiation and radioactive
substances, particularly in large scale applications such as nuclear power stations.
Much less opposition to the medical use of radiation.

The science behind the issues

Radiation is emitted by a source and travels…

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Most important chemical reaction on earth is sun's radiation is photosynthesis, which
harnesses the energy from the Sun to make foods that are energy stores.
Other effects of radiation are harmful and can kill.
UV X-rays or gamma radiation is absorbed by cells, the energy carried by the radiation does…

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o The review emphasised that mobile phone technologies are still so we that t has not
been possible to get results from long-term epidemiological studies and evaluate
the findings.
Newer epidemiological studies
o 2007, teams from three English universities and Cancer Research UK published
results of a large four-year study…

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Living close to a high voltage power line.

Pylon lines are a feature of our landscape, both in cities and in the country.
Carry electricity from power stations to consumers. Pylons carry safety warnings about the
dangers of high voltage cables, but until 1980 no one had suggested there was…

Page 5

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o One analysis of leukaemia cases they compared children exposed o average
magnetic fields over 0.2 microteslas with those exposed to average fields below 0.1
o Because of the care with which the samples were chosen and the information
collected, and the size of the study, these findings were…

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Science and technology have done much to make our lives less risky. People in the
industrialised countries live, on average, longer, healthier lives than in the past. But there are
also growing concerns that science and technology may introduce new health risks ­ from
radiation or from the chemicals used…

Page 7

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o Sometimes a risk is expressed in terms of the number of people likely to experience
the event in question. For example, the population of the UK is 60 million, so the
number above suggests that around 60 people will be killed by lightning over the
next 10 year.

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o In one situation the factor is present and in the other it is absent, while all the other
factors that might be important are kept the same.
Detecting (or eliminating) small effects
o If factor causes a major effect, it's easy to spot and people quickly see its

Page 9

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o There are always likely to be some difference between any tow groups. SO it is very
hard to persuade people that a factor has no effect. This involves proving a negative.

Media reports ­ genuine concern or just hype?

Reports often sensationalise new scientific claims to make them appear…

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though people are right to be cautious about anything that might increase their exposure to
radiation, not all the fears concerning radiation that are common among the general public
are justified.
Anxieties about different sources of radiation are often completely out of proportion to the
actual risk. For example, many…


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