The Slow Appearance of Radiation Risk Perception

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Abstract Summary
After the discovery of X rays and radioactive elements in the turn of the 19th century, the deleterious health effects of radiation were greatly ignored. Most experiments regarding the physiological effects of radiation were about the possibilities of their therapeutic use. Radiation widespread application in medicine, along with its use in entertainment, beauty and other industries rapidly unveiled radiation hazards such as skin burns, cancer and ultimately death. Nonetheless, factors such as the immediacy, certainty, transparency and obviousness of the benefits of radiation applications, together with people’s confirmatory bias, delayed the appearance of radiation risk perception among the scientists and the public. Perception about radiation thus went through an evolving process with varying velocities, from an unknown phenomenon to suddenly being a miraculous cure of all ailments and then from being a danger, in the sense of something that is out of people’s control, to entailing a risk that can be measured and prevented through implementation of protective actions. Today, radiation risk is one of the most thoroughly studied among all health risks. The present proposal intends to give a snapshot of what experts knew about radiation risk during the initial stages of research and use of ionizing radiation. Finally, the talk aims to show briefly the evolution of the scientific knowledge about radiation risk illustrated by dose limits.
Abstract ID :
HSS270
Submission Type
Abstract Topic
Chronological Classification :
19th century
Self-Designated Keywords :
risk perception, ionizing radiation, radioactivity, dose limits

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