[ RadSafe ] RE: rad material at your local high school

Keith Welch welch at jlab.org
Tue Dec 12 12:40:18 CST 2006


Shouldn't we be outraged at the idea that our tax dollars and sparse 
resources are being used to deal with this non-problem?  Ed has it 
right.  So do others who have commented at the idiocy of "cleaning up" 
this stuff.  It's like the emergency management rep said in the article: 
"it's a low hazard, but they want no hazard".  Why is that acceptable to 
any of us?

Why are our emergency response organizations devoting part of their 
budgets to this?
Why aren't they instead using those same resources to EDUCATE these 
educators about the real (almost-zero) risks of working with this 
material, and the great benefit it is to the students as a teaching aid 
(if used responsibly, by knowledgeable teachers)?
Are they ridding the school chemistry departments of all their chemicals 
as well?
Why do WE sit idly by and let this happen?
The king has no clothes.

At least there are a few people here and there swimming upstream against 
this flow, but I fear it is not nearly enough.  Thanks to some dedicated 
teachers in our state (and others, I trust), and the efforts of local 
HPS chapters, there are some school kids getting a little dose of 
reality regarding radiation.  This is the whole point of the science 
teacher education initiative of the HPS - to communicate radiation 
hazard information accurately, in the context of real life, where "no 
hazard" is not an acceptable standard unless you're willing to embrace 
enormous wastefulness and a non-rational, non-realistic, lopsided risk 
paradigm.   We should be vocally resisting (or at least rationally 
evaluating) these 'cleanup' initiatives at every opportunity, if we 
really believe that the beneficial uses of radiation are worthwhile if 
managed properly.  Here is the message the affected teachers and 
students are taking home from these government sanctioned, taxpayer 
funded efforts -- there is no activity worth even the slightest amount 
of radiation exposure.

Instead of teaching our kids to fear radiation shouldn't we be teaching 
them the science and application of radiation safety?

Keith Welch
welch at jlab.org

(The above is a highly opinionated rant by the author, is not intended 
to offend anyone, and represents only my own feeble thoughts, and not 
the feeble thoughts of any employer, past, present or future.)

> Message: 2 Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 10:27:40 -0700 From: "Ed Stroud" 
> <estroud at smtpgate.dphe.state.co.us> Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] rad 
> material at your local high school To: "Mahmoud S. Haleem" 
> <HALEEM at cua.edu>, "Academic-Medical Radiation Safety Officers 
> listserve" <amrso at mailman.mcw.edu>, "radsafe" <radsafe at radlab.nl> 
> Message-ID: <456D609C0200003800009005 at dphe.state.co.us> Content-Type: 
> text/plain; charset=US-ASCII My own opinion is that this is an 
> overreaction to very small amounts of radioactive material. I have 
> visited high schools in my area whose staff expressed concerns about 
> the radioactive materials they use in science class, and all the 
> sources/kits contained truly small quantities of no concern. Also 
> consider that the radioactive materials are normally kept in the 
> physics or chemistry department lockers, along with reagent grade 
> chemicals and/or high voltage experimental equipment, which pose much 
> more of a hazard than the radioactive materials. Ed Stroud, Health 
> Physicist Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

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