Title: The 'threat' of radioactivity: how environmental education can help overcome it

Authors: Heldio P. Villar

Addresses: Centro Regional de Ciencias Nucleares, Av. Prof. Luiz Freire, 200, 50740-540 Recife, PE, Brazil; Escola Politecnica de Pernambuco, Rua Benfica, 455, 50720-001 Recife, PE, Brazil

Abstract: For environmentalists, nuclear power and environmental preservation are two antagonistic ideas. They cannot accept that nuclear power is capable of supplying huge amounts of energy with the least impact on the planet. As a result, the public is misled by environmental Cassandras who prognosticate doom for a world with nuclear reactors. Inevitably, other nuclear projects, like research reactors and particle accelerators, are also met with public distrust. The introduction of the theoretical bases of radioactivity, radiation physics and nuclear power plants in the environmental education curricula will certainly result in a greater awareness of the public towards the reality surrounding radiation and radioactivity. This initiative, coupled with a more realistic approach towards nuclear risks on the part of nuclear regulators and licensers, has the potential to make nuclear applications – not only in electric energy production – more palatable to the public, rendering it more prepared to reap the benefits thereof.

Keywords: environmental education; nuclear science; radioactivity; public perception; nuclear energy; nuclear power; nuclear knowledge management; radiation physics; nuclear power plants; NPP.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNKM.2011.042006

International Journal of Nuclear Knowledge Management, 2011 Vol.5 No.3, pp.295 - 305

Published online: 20 Aug 2011 *

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