Understanding the basics of radiation in the environment is essential to students interested in a career in science. It is well known that radiation is essential for life (plant photosynthesis), has many beneficial uses in healthcare and industry, but can also cause harm if exposure is excessive.

Much has been published on the detrimental effects of radiation from the use of nuclear bombs, industrial or transportation accidents, and terrorist threats. Recently there has also been a resurgence of interest in the use of nuclear power as an alternative source of energy instead of fossil fuels such as coal or oil that generate carbon dioxide emissions. The search for alternative energy is being driven by the need for a clean and renewable source of energy that will reduce carbon emissions and climate change in our environment. It is also important to understand the valuable role that radiation plays in healthcare for diagnosis, as well as treatment of serious diseases such as cancer.

This section is intended to give students information about the basics of radiation, provide some background of the history of man-made radiation and principles of radiation safety. Also included is a connection to a website with information on radiation “Myths” that contribute to fear among many in society. Hopefully, this section will convince you that radiation need not be feared, but does command your respect.

Resources for students