Nuclear Pollution

  • David Hafemeister


Radiation has many positive uses, such as medical diagnostics, cancer therapy, radiosurgery from many collimated beams, nondestructive testing of structures, smoke alarms, and food irradiation. However, the use of radiation must be controlled because of possible health effects. Without taking time to think about possible danger, Louis Slotin used his hands to separate a critical mass at Los Alamos on May 21, 1946. He died in nine days, the first victim of the postwar nuclear arms race. Slotin did not die of cancer; rather his body stopped functioning after a dose of over 10 sieverts (1 Sv = 100rem). A one-time dose of 4 to 5 Sv is lethal to 50% of victims. This chapter does not deal with such large doses, but rather with doses under 10-100 mSv, which can cause cancer after a latency period of some 10-30 years.


Failure Probability Nuclear Weapon Steam Explosion Indoor Radon Smoke Alarm 
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© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Hafemeister
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsCalifornia Polytechnic State UniversitySan Luis ObispoUSA

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