[ RadSafe ] [EXTERNAL] Bq/kg soil

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Tue Dec 6 11:34:34 CST 2011

Hi, Karen.

When I am explaining rad issues to members of the public, I usually
explain some of the basic principles, such as decay and energy and
specific activity/ half life, and then address the specific topic
(radon, fallout, depleted uranium, whatever) in broad, qualitative
terms.  At that point I pause and say, "Now, from here on out, it gets
complicated."  That usually gets a laugh.  

That isn't, however, a cop-out.  A question like, "How does risk
increase with increased contamination on farm land?" has probably 100
assumptions that need to be made or clarifying questions that need to be
asked before a meaningful answer can be given (and if we parsed it out
and found it was closer to 200, I wouldn't be surprised).  Some of the
assumptions can be fairly straight forward, but some would require
gathering data in order to come up with something useful.  

Without for a moment claiming I can hold a candle to Einstein, I like to
think I understand what he meant when he said, "Do not worry about your
difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."
This isn't discouragement; rather it  implies that even when you've
learned a lot about a cool subject (like rad), there is still a lot left
to learn.    

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Karen Street
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2011 8:02 PM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] [EXTERNAL] Bq/kg soil

Jim and others, much thanks for your help! Now to figure out what I want
to explain to the public.

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