Political Aspects

What does politics have to do with experts disagreeing and whether radiation is safe? Radiation use is subject to political decision making and oversight because allowable uses of radiation in our society can have an impact on public, worker, and environmental health. As with most things political, the decisions are not necessarily based on science or safety. Sometimes our political choices actually impact our social choices—whether radiation is safe or not is one of those decisions.

Sometimes fortunately and sometimes unfortunately, social and cultural ideas impact political decisions. This might be a good thing when society acts out on an issue and our political representatives act in our best interest (banning the use of lead-based paint because it can lead to serious harmful effects if it chips off and children eat it). Sometimes it might not be good when our representatives act on behalf of a small group of people with a special interest (like outlawing alcohol during prohibition because a small group of people thought it wasn’t proper for a church-going person to drink) or if they jump on a bandwagon being driven by emotions rather than accurate, factual information (like enacting a law that no radioactive materials are allowed in the environment when they already exist there naturally).

Another piece of this is how various people with differing viewpoints on the safety of radiation can be used as centerpieces for political gain, whether it is a special interest group trying to get Congress to make decisions in its favor or whether it is a political faction with certain social views trying to convince others that there is only one correct viewpoint.