Health Implications of the Nuclear Energy Industry

The turn of the last century brought humankind the discovery and development of nuclear energy. From this point, experts in health, medicine and the sciences as a whole recognized that ionizing radiation has a negative and debilitating impact on the health and wellness of humans (Vakhil & Harvey, 2009). Destruction from radiation can impact literally any part of the human cell and can interrupt a host of human cell processes. Furthermore, the harm done to the genetic material within a cell can create a host of negative conditions from cancer to birth defects and hereditary diseases (Vakhil & Harvey, 2009). The scientific community largely agrees that there is no benign amount of exposure to radiation, and that literally any experience with radiation is destructive (Vakhil & Harvey, 2009).

The health risks associated with nuclear energy are definitive, and the use of nuclear energy is risky—history demonstrates this without a doubt, if one recalls the accidents that happened at Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. Any contamination from the usage of nuclear energy is largely irrevocable and a permanent part of the environment. The industry of harnessing nuclear energy is nuanced and includes a host of branches from uranium mining to fission processing to radioactive byproducts (Vakhil & Harvey, 2009). All of these aspects have an impact on public health and consequences for public health.

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When it comes to prudent endeavors such as limiting radiofrequency exposure, the United States trails behind other nations. This is because “…countries like Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Israel, Russia and China have set RF exposure limits 100 to 10,000 times less than the USA. They recognize that there can be non-thermal biological effects from wireless radiation” (, 2017). When it comes to the use of nuclear energy, the United States has some of the weakest laws in place designed to protect the nuclear power plants and not the average citizen. Just two years ago, nuclear power plants in Miami and New York were found to be leaking tritium: in Miami the leak was funneling into the Biscayne Bay and in New York the leak was spreading to the groundwater facility (Neuhauser, 2016). Most nuclear power plants in America are over 20 years old with some as old as 40 and 60 years of operation. “Yet more than three-quarters of the country’s commercial nuclear power sites have reported some kind of radioactive leak in their life spans, an investigation by the Associated Press found in June 2011 – three months after Fukushima. At the same time, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission weakened federal regulations to allow plants to keep operating, despite thousands of problems ranging from corroded pipes to cracked concrete and radioactive leaks” (Neuhauser, 2016). This clearly demonstrates that the nation’s politicians and lawmakers have a priority to protect the economy and this dangerous type of energy source over the lives of citizens. It is cavalier and very risky decision making which shows a wanton disregard for the tax-paying citizens that make up this country.

On the other hand, The World Health Organization (WHO) has already taken the lead in establishing a rigorous radiation program to safeguard health workers, patients and the general public against the overall health concerns of radiation contact within the multifaceted parameters they might occur—such as in expected or emergency circumstances. The WHO centers their efforts on the public health needs and realities of protection from nuclear energy, and this particular program centers on how people can evaluate their radiation risk, manage exposure and communicate with other professionals. As expected, the WHO believes in collaboration and partnership and has already worked together with seven other international groups to endeavor to change the basic safety standards (BSS) for radiation exposure and norms. The WHO has endorsed the BSS as the minimum standard for radiation exposure when dealing with nuclear energy. With their great influence, the WHO is working to execute the permanent usage of theses basic safety standards in all member states.

When it comes to the use of nuclear energy the populations that generally emerge, as being the most disadvantaged are the ones who live closest to the nuclear power plants. These are generally poorer and/or older populations who either rent or own low income homes. These populations are most vulnerable because they are the first to be affected if there is ever some kind of spill, accident or emergency: their lives are in the direct line of combat. Living near a nuclear energy plant is like living near a war zone that has called an indefinite ceasefire: one never knows when one’s life will suddenly and inexplicably be in jeopardy.










Neuhauser, A. (2016, March 15). Access Denied. Retrieved from (2017). Worldwide Countries Taking Action on Wireless. Retrieved from

Vakhil, C., & Harvey, L. (2009, May). Human Health Implications of the Nuclear Energy Industry (2009) – Physicians for the Environment. Retrieved from (2016, April). Ionizing radiation, health effects and protective measures. Retrieved from





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