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HOME > PAST ISSUE > March-April 2017 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Risks and Benefits of Radiation

The story of radon's study in public health can be a guide for how to best weigh the pros and cons of radiation use.

Timothy J. Jorgensen

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On December 2, 1984, Stanley J. Watras, an engineer working on construction of the new Limerick nuclear power plant near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, arrived at work. The plant was scheduled to begin generating power within three weeks, and the construction crew had just installed radiation detectors at the plant doors—a standard safeguard to ensure that nuclear workers don’t exit the plant with any radioactive contamination on their bodies. When Watras arrived that day, he set off the alarms on the detectors as he walked into the plant. Over the following two weeks he would set off the alarms every morning. Further investigation revealed that his clothes were contaminated with radioactivity that he had picked up at his home!


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