Cover image for Permissible dose : a history of radiation protection in the twentieth century
Permissible dose : a history of radiation protection in the twentieth century
Walker, J. Samuel.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press ; [Washington, D.C.?] : [Nuclear Regulatory Commission], 2000.
Physical Description:
xii, 168 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Shipping list no.: 2001-0011-P.

Includes index.
Reading Level:
1590 Lexile.
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


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TK9152 .W35 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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How much radiation is too much? J. Samuel Walker examines the evolution, over more than a hundred years, of radiation protection standards and efforts to ensure radiation safety for nuclear workers and for the general public. The risks of radiation--caused by fallout from nuclear bomb testing, exposure from medical or manufacturing procedures, effluents from nuclear power, or radioactivity from other sources--have aroused more sustained controversy and public fear than any other comparable industrial or environmental hazard. Walker clarifies the entire radiation debate, showing that permissible dose levels are a key to the principles and practices that have prevailed in the field of radiation protection since the 1930s, and to their highly charged political and scientific history as well.

Author Notes

J. Samuel Walker is the historian of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. His previous books include Containing the Atom (California, 1992) and (with George T.Mazuzan) Controlling the Atom (California, 1984).

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Choice Review

Debate continues over the consequences of exposure to nuclear radiation. What is safe and what is safe enough remain serious public concerns. US Nuclear Regulatory Commission historian Walker's response: "Deciding on a (safe) level of radiation exposure that seemed appropriate for workers and the public necessarily involves a bewildering array of public health, energy, environmental and national defense issues that invariably aroused differing views." Public fear of exposure, too often exacerbated by shrill media focus on nuclear accidents, such as that of Three Mile Island, soon brought heightened political attention to what may eventually prove a scientific nonissue. The need for radiation standards is evident. In his factual, well-documented, and readable book, the author traces the evolution of radiation protection for the hundred years of scientific recognition of its existence. Halfway through the period, the public learned of its hazards from the extreme levels released in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. But indecision regarding exposure risks rests today on the dangers resulting from low radiation levels, including indoor radon, issues that suffer from present "scientific uncertainties." All levels. J. G. Morse Colorado School of Mines

Table of Contents

Figuresp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Chapter 1 The Discovery of Radiation and Its Hazardsp. 1
Chapter 2 The Debate Over Nuclear Power and Radiationp. 29
Chapter 3 The Role of Federal Agencies in Radiation Protectionp. 67
Chapter 4 New Controversies, New Standardsp. 91
Chapter 5 The Ambiguities of Radiation Effectsp. 129
Essay on Sourcesp. 157
Indexp. 161