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Nuclear energy and radiation: salvation or health risk?

Автор: Nazerke Bakytkerey0825


In Kazakhstan, it was planned to build a nuclear power plant in the Almaty region, so radiation exposure and its effects on the human body is one of the most relevant topics at the moment. The main goal of this study is to understand how radiation can affect the human body in different conditions and what the consequences may be. The  study used reliable articles about the effects of radiation radiation, qualitative and quantitative methods of extracting information. The interview was used as a qualitative method, and was taken from 4 respondents: two teachers and two students of the Nazarbayev Intellectual School. Also, the survey was used as a quantitative method and was taken from 51 people of different age and social groups. In general, studies have shown that many residents have a basic understanding of the effects of radiation on the human body, but do not know how to protect themselves from it in everyday life. Also, they are not aware of the methods of using radiation in a positive light. After all, radiation can be used in many areas of human life. There is a nuclear medicine. In which radiation exposure exploited as a radiation therapy.  In addition, the articles helped to identify the effect of radiation on the human body in different conditions, based on the accidents at Fukushima and Chernobyl. In conclusion, we can say that radiation exposure has many dangers, but if it is used with caution and intelligence, then humanity can only benefit.

Key words

Radiation, nuclear energy, physics, biology, chemistry, Fukushima, Chernobyl, nuclear power, nuclear power plant, radiation exposure, human, isotopes,


In physics, radiation is the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through a material medium. (Weisstein, 2014.) Radiation can appear in the environment due to cosmic rays such as infrared rays, irradiation of natural isotopes and radio-hazardous elements, and much more. The radiation exposure and its effects on human's health is one of the main problems in medicine. Exposure to low levels of radiation does not cause immediate health effects but may cause a slight increase in the risk of injury, illness, or death from exposure to the hazard. However, scientists and doctors have learned to use radiation exposure for positive purposes, as in the form of x-ray radiation, which helps to detect diseases in the human body. 

if we go to personal preferences, this topic was interesting for several reasons. First, it is planned to build a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan, which will provide energy to several cities in the future. Even though the nuclear power plant itself is environmentally friendly, its waste can have a negative impact on human health. 

On the one hand, radiation can cause cancer of the skin and other organs, and sometimes cause a malignant tumor. In addition, radiation can damage a person's genetic code. it may seem that this is not the case in this person, but his descendants may have mutations and incurable genetic and chromosomal diseases. 

On the other hand, radiation is now successfully used for medical purposes. X-ray, gamma radiation, beta radiation, and neutron radiation are most often used to treat malignant tumors. For example, radiation therapy is used to treat malignant tumors, or radiography, which is a method of non-invasive radiation examination of internal organs. In addition, x-ray computed tomography is now more popular. This allows to see injuries that are invisible on a normal x- ray image due to overlapping organs and tissues. 

In general, the question of whether radiation is a salvation or vice versa harms the human body is a controversial issue.  I want people to learn more about radiation and its effects on the human body.  Of course, we cannot say that radiation is completely negative or completely beneficial to the human body. However, I believe that through these studies, people will be able to learn more about the beneficial effects of radiation and its use in a positive way.  and open the door to a brighter future. 


In the near future, Kazakhstan plans to build a nuclear power plant on its territory, and I think that citizens should be informed about the possible consequences and the effects of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste on their health. It is obvious that radiation exposure causes cancer of various organs. However, a small dose of radiation can also detect and cure cancer. This research aims to find out whether radiation is a health risk or a salvation.

To conduct this research,3 methods of collecting information will be used: interview, internet resources and survey. Biology and chemistry teachers will be surveyed in order to learn about the effects of radiation, and then, this information will be supplemented with the help of internet resources. Withal, a survey between students and teachers will arranged.

Expected outcomes are reliable information about the radiation effect on human health and answer to asked question.

Literature review

This paper analyzes the 5 published articles about effects of nuclear energy and radiation on public health. The articles state the main dangers and benefits of nuclear energy for human health. Some articles highlight the harm of the radiation be the integrating the accident at The Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, while other articles say that some types of radioactive substances can help in the treatment of disease such as a cancer.

Makiko Orita, Naomi Hayashida, Yumi Nakayama, Tetsuko Shinkawa, Hideko Urata, Yoshiko Fukushima, Yuuko Endo, Shunichi Yamashita and Noboru Takamura conducted an investigation on the topic “The late health effects of low-dose rate radiation exposure are still a serious public concern in the Fukushima area even four years after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP)”. The study was conducted in the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima prefecture in May and June 2014. Consider appears that a checked bipolarization of the chance discernment of the wellbeing impacts of radiation in inhabitants seem have a major effect on long-term social prosperity after the mischance at FNPP. It is vital for specialists to pursue a risk communication strategy with the public that accepts the serious misunderstandings among many residents even while presenting scientific evidence. And to be more precise, it is about Acute radiation syndrome. This is an acute illness caused by irradiation of the entire body by a high dose of radiation in a very short period of time (usually a matter of minutes) (Orita et al., 2015, p.2). It has been claimed that almost 71% of the residents of this the settlements where the research was conducted were not afraid to buy locally produced vegetables and did not notice obvious signs of this disease, while. the remaining 29% said that the disease worsened in their village, which was located near Fukushima(Orita et al., 2015, p.5).

Amanda N. Deatsch-Kratochvil, Thomas Neil Pascual, Adam Kesner, Eduardo Rosenblatt and Rethy K. Chhem observed the topic of the “International Atomic Energy Agency's Activities in Radiation Medicine and Cancer: Promoting Global Health Through Diplomacy”. This article focuses on cancer as a threat to international security, defines and introduces global health diplomacy as a means to overcome global challenges, and briefly outlines the IAEA's program activities and peaceful applications of atomic energy in human health (by focusing on cancer) within the context of health diplomacy(Deatsch-Kratochvil et al., 2013, p.3). According to World Health Organization, the IAEA has taken a leadership role in the fight against cancer, having recently made cancer a priority on its agenda. This tells us that cancer can be identified and cured with radiotherapy. 

George Etherington, Wei Zhang, John Harrison and Linda Walsh explored the topic of the “Worker doses and potential health effects resulting from the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011”. This study can help determine the working doses and potential health effects of radiation. the research was divided into different scenarios and each involved a different number of people with different degrees of radiation.These findings confirm that for those workers represented by Scenario S2 (about 30% of the FDNPS workforce) and Scenario S3 (160 workers), a small number of radiation-related cancer cases may occur in future years, but they are unlikely to be observed because of the normal variability in the baseline rate of cancer incidence in the general population. For those workers represented by Scenario S4 (the 13 workers with the highest internal doses), elevated lifetime risks of thyroid cancer have been estimated. The HRA suggested that there is an increased risk of developing long-term circulatory disease, especially among workers whose radiation levels exceed 500 mSv. Thus, we can say that the maximum radiation threshold is 500 mSv.

André Bouville, Martha S. Linet, Maureen Hatch, Kiyohiko Mabuchi, and Steven L. Simon explored a comprehensive systematic approach to estimating radiation doses for the evaluation of health risks resulting from a nuclear power plant accident. These guidelines emphasizes the activities to be conducted after a reactor accident and are important for the two types of risk assessment: a) early-phase risk projections conducted soon after the accident, that is, prior to the development of the health outcomes (cancers and other diseases), and b) late phase risk projections carried out years after the accident. Scientists have come to this conclusion, given the four largest accidents at nuclear reactors in the history of nuclear power.

William R. Hendee and Michael K. O’Connor investigated the topic of the “Radiation Risks of Medical Imaging: Separating Fact from Fantasy”. The foremost information source for the risk factors is the continuous study of survivors of the Japanese atomic blasts, a populace of people that is greatly distinctive from patients experiencing imaging strategies. Hendee and O’Connor (2012) propose that children are recognized as particularly susceptible to radiation injury, and care should always be exercised to keep dose as low as possible while consistent with acquiring needed diagnostic information. Also, numerous patients who experience restorative imaging strategies have an illness that abbreviates their life anticipation. These patients are at diminished hazard of cancer induction by radiation since they will not survive long enough for the cancer to materialize. And highly speculative articles that predict cancer incidence and death in populations receiving relatively small doses of radiation from medical imaging are not without their own health risks (Hendee & O’Conner, 2012, p.9).


This research included different types of data collection methods. First, background information was collected. The background information is the main part of data collection, because it gives reliable general information about this topic. That is why background information was taken from various academic articles and journals. All background information and data were collected by both primary and secondary sources in order to make this research reliable.  Also, the qualitative and quantitative research methods were used as a source of information.  

Since the question of the study is to understand whether radiation can be useful, the main goal was to provide the study with reliable information and people's opinions on this issue. For this purpose, interviews were used as a qualitative method and a survey as a quantitative method. The interview was used as a qualitative method for getting the respondents' opinions on the given question. their relationship to nuclear power plants and detailed information about the use of radiation. The interview contains 6 questions that will help you get General information about the effects of radiation on the human body. The first question was about the appearance of radiation in our environment. The second and third questions were asked in order to get information about whether nuclear power plants can affect the human body and how the interviewee relates to its construction. The fourth and fifth questions were about the use of radiotherapy in medicine. And finally, the sixth question was asked in order to find out the opinion of the interviewee about whether radiation can have more positive properties than disadvantages. It was conducted among students and teachers1 of the Nazarbayev Intellectual school. The interview was taken from five people: two teachers and two students. The teachers who taught biology and chemistry at the school were familiar with this topic. They gave General information and expressed their views on this issue. The interview can also help to find out the position of the interviewee on the construction of a nuclear power plant on the territory of Kazakhstan and on this issue. Considering the different ages of the respondents, it showed its effectiveness in collecting data, since a lot of information and opinions were expressed from different points of view. The main difficulty of interviewing was the lack of specialists in the nuclear industry in our city. Also, in our city, radiation therapy is not as developed as in other cities of the country, so it was difficult to conduct interviews and find reliable information about this topic.

The second method is a survey, which is used as a method for collecting quantitative data. The survey was conducted among Aktobe residents by sending it to WhatsApp, Instagram and Outlook messengers. The main purpose of the survey is to collect information about the level of knowledge of citizens, their attitude to the construction of a nuclear power plant on the territory of Kazakhstan. The topic of radiation effects on human health is common to all people, so the research was conducted among all citizens in different age and social groups. In General, the main problem during the survey was that many people did not pay attention to it. However, 51 people of different ages participated in the survey. Therefore, we can say that the survey was conducted successfully.


To conduct this research, quantitative and qualitative methods were used. The survey was used in order to assess citizens level of knowledge about radiation and its effects on human’s health. It included 6 questions about sources of radiation, its effects on human’s health and radiotherapy. In the survey 51 people were participated from different age (from 10 years) and social groups. The first question was about the age of respondents. Most of respondents, 27 people, are teenagers from 10 to 20 years old.  People from different age groups have different points of view about this problem, that is why there was no age restrictions.  For comparison, least of all, people over 50 years old participated in the survey.

Question №1. Your age?

The second question was asked in order to find out if they know possible sources of radiation in our environment. This question included answers such as the “nuclear power plants”, “greenhouse effect”, “space radiation”, “radiation from natural radioactive isotopes” and “other”. The 20 respondents answered as “nuclear power plants” and 17 people answered as “radiation from natural radioactive isotopes” respectively. this shows that many people think that nuclear power plants and natural radioactive isotopes of chemical elements are the main sources of radiation in our environment.

The third question was asked to the respondents to find out if they know the possible consequences of the radiation exposure on human health. As shown in the graph, 32 respondents answered “No”, 10 people answered “Yes”, and 9 people found it difficult to answer to this question. This shows that many people are unaware of the possible effects of radiation exposure on human health. 

Question №3.  Do you know the possible consequences of radiation exposure?

The fourth question was asked in order to find out if the respondents know the simple rules of protection against radiation in the environment. As shown in the graph, 21 people answered “Yes” to this question, 19 people answered “No”, and 11 respondents found it difficult to answer. this shows that almost 60 percent of all respondents do not know the simple rules of protection against radiation in the environment or cannot answer this question.

Question №4. Do you know the simple rules of protection against radiation in the environment?

The fifth question was asked to find out whether the respondents know the method of fighting cancer as radiotherapy. 27 people answered "No" to this question, 21 people answered "Yes", and 3 people found this question difficult to answer. As shown in the graph below, more than half of the people who took the survey did not know about this method, this shows that many people unaware of this positive way of using radiation.

5. Do you know such a method of dealing with cancer as radiation therapy?

The sixth seventh questions were asked to see if the respondents knew other positive ways to use radiation. As shown in the graph below, 26 respondents answered “No”, 22 respondents answered “Yes” and other 3 people found it difficult to answer to this question. This shows that many people are unaware of many other uses of radiation for beneficial purposes№

Question №6. Do you know other beneficial effects of radiation on the human body?

Summarizing the results of the survey. we can say that many people are not aware of the effects of radiation on the human body. Also, the respondents did not know about the positive ways using radiation in medicine and so on.

The second method of collecting data was an interview. The interview was conducted among two teachers and two students of the Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Aktobe. It included 6 questions that could give General information on this topic and show their relation to the useful use of radiation. Almost all respondents noted that radiation negatively affects the human body, can harm healthy human cells and cause cancer. The interviewees provided information about radiotherapy and its use in medicine. all respondents noted that using radiation rays can affect cancer cells and temporarily stop their further development. Also, all respondents agreed with the construction of a nuclear power plant on the territory of Kazakhstan. They noted that nuclear power plants can positively affect the development of the economy of Kazakhstan.


Based on all the studies we can draw a conclusion of this research. First of all, how does radiation affect human health in general? Radiation affects normal human cells and can negatively affect them by impressing them. This causes their uncontrolled reproduction, and in the future can lead to the formation of a malignant or benign tumor. Also, radiation exposure can change a person's stable genetic code and cause them to develop leukemia. Acute leukemia is a clonal (oncological) disease that occurs primarily in the bone marrow as a result of a mutation of a blood stem cell (Shulutko & Makarenko. 2007).

Secondly, how is radiotherapy used in the treatment of cancer? In general, radiation therapy or radiotherapy is a therapy using ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells and normally delivered by a linear accelerator (Walter & Miller. 2012). According to the researches of Walter and Miller, radiation therapy may be curative in a number of types of cancer if they are localized to one area of the body. In addition, through research, we have learned about other ways to use radiation in a positive way. For example, x-ray machines use x-ray and gamma radiation to produce images of the human body that provide important diagnostic information for doctors and their patients. X-rays and other forms of radiation also have a variety of therapeutic uses. When used in this way, they are most often intended to kill cancerous tissue, reduce the size of a tumor, or reduce pain (“Uses of rdiation”,2017). Radionuclides are also used for the direct treatment of diseases, such as radioactive iodine, which is absorbed exclusively by the thyroid gland, for the treatment of cancer or hyperthyroidism.

Summing up, we cannot completely say whether radiation is completely dangerous and harmful to the human body, or whether it is a salvation. Surveys have shown that many people do not know much about radiation and its positive effects on the human body. Therefore, the main thing is to inform residents about the main effects of radiation on the human body and show that radiation exposure can sometimes be useful for the human body and even save lives.  Moreover, in medicine, radiation is used only in small quantities and can lead to benefits in many cases. That is why, we can say that radiation is not a particularly dangerous phenomenon if you follow simple rules of protection against it.

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