Low-level radiation is a mixed blessing. It can be used medically in radiation therapy to save the lives of cancer patients, but it also has the possibility of causing cancer when people are exposed to it over long periods of time. In addition, its use in many fields creates a radioactive waste disposal problem. Low-level radioactive wastes cannot be thrown in the trash; depending on the type of waste, they probably will have to be securely stored or buried for hundreds of years. Because radiation is always a public concern and is always newsworthy, science communicators need to know about the issue.

Few people worry much about low-level radiation. Most public attention has focused on high-level radiation exposure that might come from the explosion of a ...

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