RADIATION: Waves and Particles/Benefits and Risks by Laurence Pringle

RADIATION: Waves and Particles/Benefits and Risks

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Though we soak it up in the form of sunshine, says Pringle, ""still for many people radiation is a scary word."" Pringle makes it less mysterious, however, with his primer-like explanation of wavelengths and frequencies and their use in such everyday devices as microwave ovens, TVs, and medical X-rays; his definitions of such terms as gamma rays, radioactive isotopes, rems, and rads; and his matter-of-fact survey of the natural background radiation to which we are all exposed. As matter-of-factly, almost blandly discussed are the risks and benefits of medical X-rays, the problem of worker exposure to radiation from uranium tailings, the controversy over underground storage of reactor wastes (""some scientists have confidence in this plan. Others are skeptical and worry that radioactive substances might enter groundwater and reach the surface eventually""), and the recent investigations, with their revelations of government deception, of the fallout effects from nuclear weapons testing in the '50s. On the safety of low-level radiation exposure, Pringle cites official conclusions to the effect that current risks are very small but greater than previously believed, and he notes the possibly more serious risk to certain radiation workers. Rather drab for Pringle, and without the probing direction of his Nuclear Power (1979), this is a utilitarian but serviceable orientation to a subject that can benefit from the ABC treatment.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Enslow