Radiation Dangers Allowed to Proliferate for the Consumer

March 11, 2009, by Roger Herried

Editor's note: Radiation issues are more than nuclear power and weapons related. We report on tritium and wireless as well.We routinely hear about stories of radioactive elements being used in a whole variety of materials. From the claims that radiation is used to temper many specialized types of plastics used in cars, to the lesser known but monumental concerns of how commercial grades of fertilizer that contains large quantities of Polonium 210 that ends up in cigarette smoke, there is a growing problem around attempts to sneak in all kinds of radioactive products into commercial use. We've all heard about how coal may be one of the largest sources of radiation, yet are they willing to tell people that this may also go for oil as well? Not all oil or coal put out the same levels of radiation, but it is there.
We can usually count on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or the Department of Energy (DOE) to try and deregulate all kinds of radioactive materials that usually get stopped by activist campaigns. However, under the Bush administration activists keeping an eye on these issues were overwhelmed by the scale of other seemingly more pressing battles, losing on things like the FDA's expansion of the use of ionizing radiation to sterilize food products. The former Radura symbol that was once required of any ionized food products has been removed and many new products, far beyond just herbs are now being irradiated. There was even an attempt to include food irradiation as acceptable under the Organic label.
Radiation effects all of us differently. Sadly, it impacts the fetus, weak and very old the worst. America's ALARA principle (As Low As Reasonably Allowable) means that if any radiation gets in the way of commercial products, radiation levels can be ignored. As far as the regulators are concerned, we are all 21 year old health white males. Every one of us should be far better educated as to the impacts of radiation, from excessive exposure, whether it be naturally occurring or man made.
Every year, all the radiation released into the environment becomes part of our "background radiation levels" It took billions of years for the natural background radiation on the planet to slow down enough to allow for more sophisticated life forms like ours. Very few of us walk around with geiger counters to monitor whether or not we are close to some product or other, many have been around us for decades, that could potentially hurt our cells.
Imagine walking up to a fancy old drinking fountain with an orange porcelain color, not knowing that it is 5-7 times the normal background level. Or using camping lanterns that are far worse. From ionizing to non-ionizing forms of radiation, we should all be given the proper tools and education to understand the dangers around us in a culture that doesn't give a damn about what it does to our health, as long as we don't know.
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