Columbia Generating Station
What is Radiation?
Radiation is energy emitted as invisible particles, waves, or rays. Radioactive atoms produce radiation as they disintegrate. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of radiation each day. Air, water, food, and sunshine are a few sources of natural background radiation. Radiation also comes from other sources, such as color televisions and medical
People are concerned about radiation exposure because it can alter or damage the human cell structure. That is why nuclear power plants are carefully monitored and employees are trained to limit their exposure to a level that is as low as reasonably achievable.
The containment building, the reactor vessel, the fuel assemblies, and several other barriers are designed to contain radiation and protect plant workers and the public living near a nuclear plant from any exposure to elevated levels of radiation.
About radiation and nuclear power
Radioactivity first appeared during World War II.
Radioactivity has been around since the Big Bang. Humans have known about radioactivity and used it since the 19th Century.
Atoms cannot be changed from one element to another.
Atoms can be changed to new elements with the addition or subtraction of a proton. We see atoms change in alpha decay, fission, and fusion reactions.
Fission and fusion are the same; however, fission is more powerful than fusion.
Fission is the splitting of atoms. Fusion is the combining of atoms.
Neutrons and protons have no internal structure.
Neutrons and protons are composed of quarks and gluons.
Radiation causes cancer. Thus, it cannot be used to cure cancer.
Excessive radiation can cause cancer. However, utilizing the destructive power of radiation on cancerous cells can cure cancer.
Once a material is radioactive, it is radioactive forever.
One can physically remove the radioactive particles from the material or wait for it to decay. Some radioactive [particles] decay in a short period of time, while other decays might last longer than 10,000 years.
© Contemporary Physics Education Project
This text comes from "The Guide to the Nuclear Wall Chart" catalog #71960-04.