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Evaluating the Hazards of Radiation and its Sources

Project Overview

Project Overview

This RWLO is designed to be used in a study of radioactivity, types of radiation and nuclear fission. It could also be used in a survey of energy sources and alternatives to fossil fuels and the environmental consequences of these alternatives.  The RWLO is intended to be used in undergraduate level chemistry courses for non-science majors or health science majors or equivalent science and society type courses.

The perception of radiation and nuclear power generation tends to be one of dread. As a result of vocal activism and the publicity associated with the Chernobyl disaster, the dangers of nuclear power generation tend to be grossly exaggerated. One of the objectives of this RWLO is to direct students towards making educated and informed arguments about the real risks of exposure to radiation and the real environmental consequences of nuclear power generation. With dramatically increased concerns about global warming and the problems of greenhouse gases, the search for alternative energy sources has a new sense of urgency. Among the options, nuclear power needs to be examined from a well-informed perspective.

Unique and compelling features of this RWLO are two-fold. The first is the use of an online calculator at the EPA website to determine exposure levels to all forms of radiation and enables sensitivity to different types of behaviour or environment to be evaluated.

The second activity that makes unique and compelling use of the internet is to formulate a question within class and "ask the expert." The Health Physics Society website offers this feature.

Students will then be prepared to engage in a discussion of the real dangers of nuclear power and its role as an alternative to fossil fuels.