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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Essay on Use of Nuclear Power

INSTRUCTIONS:  I need an essay about the potential worst nuclear public health threat
we face. Please -identify the threat; -describe why you think it is such a critical public health threat; -do you think our public health system is prepared to counter the threat?; -what can be done to either lessen or eliminate the threat?

Essay on Use of Nuclear Power: A Great Threat to the Public Health

            In the past years, the rapid advancement in the technology brought about challenges and problems such as the lack of stable source of electricity. For many years, the non-renewable resources of fossil fuels such as oil and coal have been the main sources of electricity. In the recent times, nuclear power is seen as a potential alternative source of great amounts of energy supply. The nuclear power plants and stations operate on a global scale in order to supply for more than 400,000 megawatts of energy or an estimate of 14% energy supply. Despite the potential of the nuclear power to supply massive amounts of energy, the expansion of nuclear plants is seen as very disastrous to public health. The generation of nuclear energy equally goes with the generation of immense negative health effects for the public. 

            The accidents in the Cherenobyl and Fukushima Nuclear Power plants are the evidence of how disastrous nuclear accidents can be and how it can cause both short-term and long-term health diseases for the affected public. Despite the issue against the negative effects of nuclear power plants both on the environment and human health, the numbers of nuclear power plants continue to rise, not only in the United States but also in the other countries of the world.
            One of the most pressing issues against the nuclear power and power plants is the many negative health effects of radioactivity. The nuclear reactors in the power plants which are powered by nuclear fission make use of ionizing radiation. It is known that the ionizing radiation produces a lot of toxic substances that can greatly harm human health. Ionizing radiation is known to cause damage to DNA and lead to genetic mutation.  The radioactivity generated by the nuclear reactors are made up of  different radionuclides that can be very lethal to human . A milligram of such radionuclides can be very fatal when ingested or inhaled. The exposure to these elements and to nuclear radiation can mean serious and lethal health effects for the public. They can cause carcinogenic effects such as leukemia, cancer, congenital defects, diabetes, infections in the immune systems and infant mortality.  Studies show that people living near these nuclear power plants have higher chances of suffering long term health diseases. The workers in the power plants were also observed to experienced deep tissue traumas, skin burns and chronic diseases such as cancer. Thus, the issue of generating nuclear power by power plants  poses critical threats to the public health. 

            The effects of the ionizing radiation are classified into two types; the deterministic effects and the stochastic effects. The deterministic effects are those which are associated to be directly proportional to the dose of the radioactive substance. This means that the higher the dose, the worse the effects are. Skin damage and blood disorders are one of these deterministic effects. The stochastic effects on the other hand are those outcomes with high chances of occurring. These effects would primarily include cancer and genetic defects. 

            Due to the increasing concern over the adverse effects of generating nuclear power from power plants, the government and the local public health systems are in cooperation in developing response frameworks, guidelines and plans in order to address all types of radiological and nuclear incidents. The report released by the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the preparedness to nuclear and radiological incidents stated that the local public health systems have plans and guidelines on how to monitor radiological contamination, identify and treat patients who are contaminated and disseminate the important health information regarding the issue. With a concrete framework, I think the local level is prepared responding to various emergencies that can be posed by nuclear incidents. 

            Aside from being prepared in addressing nuclear and radiological accidents, I think one of the best ways to lessen or totally eliminate the threat is for the government to enforce more intervention. The government should further monitor and impose laws to nuclear power corporations. The government’s direct involvement should emphasize the safety of the people and the environment instead of the economic interests.

Van Leeuwen, Jan Willem Storm. Health risks of nuclear power. Chaam: The Netherlands
22 Nov 2010. Web. 7 Jul 2013.

Levinson, Daniel. Local Public Health Preparedness for Radiological and Nuclear Incidents. United States of America: Department of Health and Human Services

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