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When will we ever learn?

When will we ever learn?  The issues of the safe use of nuclear power and safe nuclear waste disposal are ever with us.  In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, officials and citizens have been rethinking the use of nuclear power.  But these problems did not arise overnight.  Dealing with the harmful effects of nuclear radiation has been a problem for over 100 years! 

The book DEADLY SUNSHINE: the History and Fatal Legacy of Radium by David L. Harvie, traces the early history of the use of radioactive materials before science acknowledged that radiation could kill.  The author is British, but he gives ample coverage to the use (abuse?) of radium in the U.S.A., Europe and Russia.  At that time, there was no FDA in America, nor any such regulatory agency anywhere. Radium cures were touted by quacks of every stripe; it was added to drinking water as a “tonic” and even used as a beauty aid.  He also describes the appalling fate of hundreds of luminous dial painters in New York in the 1920’s.  This book is written for the lay reader, and deals with the social, political, and health issues connected with radium and is available in the Falmouth Public Library.  A true horror story written in plain English.

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