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Radiation from nuclear power is feared to have the potential of causing a cancer or some genetic diseases. This fear, however, is dismissed by Cohen after he compares artificial radiation and the radiation that occurs naturally in our environment, analyzing their respective impact on human health. Cohen separately discusses the different sources of nuclear power risks and arrives at the following conclusions: 1) the probability of real reactor accidents, with the safety system of defense in depth, are extremely small, 2) radioactive waste, if properly handled, causes negligible damage; 3) other radiation problem, such as accidents in transportation or radon exposures in mining, are also not so threatening as they seem to be. In summary he believes that radiation due to nuclear power will cause much fewer cancers and deaths than coal burning.


Nina Bai addresses the widespread concerns over the health effects of radiation exposure in the wake of Fukushima nuclear crisis. She discusses three determinative factors: the level, type and duration of radiation exposure. First, radiation sickness usually occurs when there is excessive dose of exposure, though the limits of radiation level differ for the general public, radiation workers, and patients going through medical radiation. Second, of the four types of ionizing radiation, gamma, X-ray, alpha, and beta, the latter two, albeit being lower energy, are more likely to cause health damage. Third, a very high single dose of radiation can be more harmful than the same dosage accumulated over time. Finally, Bai draws on the lesson of Chernobyl, and concludes radiation exposure within reasonable limit is not so fearful and it is good to exercise caution.


Amber Cornelio (2011) maintains that radiatio n from Japan’s Fukushima disaster has threatened the daily life of ordinary Americans. He challenges the government’s view that radioactive materials detected in domestic milk, vegetables and rainwater will pose no public health concern. He suspects that the government is downplaying the potential dangers of radiation to justify its use of nuclear power. He believes the government has failed to do the job of protecting people. In the end, he urges the government to be more responsible and stop building power plants on a faulty line. He warns that covering up the facts is not the key to avoid similar disasters in the future. Text14

Susan Blumenthal (2011) aims to inform people of nuclear radiation with scientific facts. She starts the essay with a reference to the worldwide spread of fear in the wake of Fukushima disaster and then explains what radiation is. The explanation is followed by a report of different types of radioactive materials released into the air. She goes on to tell that an exposure to those materials will increase the risks of some major diseases. However, she concedes radiation is not so menacing as was assumed and humans are exposed to naturally occurring radiation every day. Whether radiation is harmful to health or not depends on two contexts: the duration and strength of the exposure. She warns that exposure to high doses of radiation can lead to acute health problems. Long-term low dose exposure to radiation is equally fatal.