Q&A With NRC Kids: Radiation and Other Questions

Eliot Brenner
Director, Office of Public Affairs
One of the participants in the new video takes a question.
One of the participants in the new video takes a question.

Art Linkletter, a 1950s and ‘60s radio and television host, used to interview children for his show “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” In that spirit, at last year’s “Take your Child to Work Day” at the NRC, we seized the opportunity to see what kids knew about NRC and related matters – and make it into a video.

We asked: Do you know what radiation is? We got a variety of answers – some vague and some spot on (they’ve obviously been listening to their parents).

Then we asked: Do you know what has radiation in it? No, not candy, despite what the kids might think. But yes, bananas and salt, and it also comes from the sun and from the stars, as explained by the NRC expert who answered the question.

Other questions we asked include what do nuclear power plants generate and what is a regulation. We have a variety of NRC experts answering all the questions – and correcting a few misunderstandings.

We hope you enjoy the video, and that teachers and parents can use it to help explain nuclear matters to school-aged children. And we want thank all the kids who participated in this project.


Note: A revised, shortened version of the video is now up!

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

8 thoughts on “Q&A With NRC Kids: Radiation and Other Questions”

  1. If the NRCc cares about kids, it ought to give thouands of kids grants for their own radiation survey devices, and the software for them to create a network of monitoring sites in a grid pattern around all NPPs and SFPs. A network of kids with meters would tell the truth whenever there are releases or accidents, not hide it.

  2. You can rest assured that your federal tax dollar were not used in this activity. The NRC is funded by the millions of dollars in annual fees paid by the very industry it regulates.

    So the presentation of ANY information that puts the risks associated with radiation exposure in the proper perspective is to be resisted at every turn? Is it OK to tell the kids that everyone on the planet receives an average of 300 millirem per year from ALL sources, natural and man-made – the fraction of which that can be attributed to the nuclear fuel cycle is around 0.1%? Or that the radioactive content of the fly ash emitted by a coal-fired power plant carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy?

    A little perspective goes a long way in combating FUD. Get some.

  3. I find this quite disturbing. Although potentially educating the younger generation about the real dangers of nuclear power plants and the entire fuel cycle would be a useful endeavor, this is total propaganda, blurs–no, erases–the line between regulator and industry spokesperson. I can appreciate the fun it must have been for the director of public affairs to get employees’ children into a video, but not only is this misleading and misinformed, but the effect on both the children and the public is detrimental. This video should be pulled immediately.

    Why not ask the children around Fukushima or Hanford, Washington, or the Navajo reservations (where uranium is mined) these same questions? I think you would get a different response. The NRC should do its job and stop playing at it. We have dozens of nuclear power plants identical to those that melted down in Fukushima still in operation. No significant changes have been applied. It is the nuclear REGULATORY commission, not the nuclear propaganda corporation.

  4. This article is just another example of the nuclear lobby’s snide deceptions. Take for example, the mention of radiation in bananas. Is that the same as radiation from nuclear activities?
    The potassium-40 n bananas is a particularly poor model isotope to use, because the potassium content of our bodies seems to be under balanced control.When you eat a banana, your body’s level of Potassium-40 doesn’t increase. You just get rid of some excess Potassium-40. The net dose of a banana is zero.

  5. This is nothing less than NRC propaganda and I’m disappointed in the NRC that they feel like they can use OUR tax money to help push the Nuclear Industries agenda! Where is the balanced perspective and/or video’s from kids that have been displaced by Nuclear Gone BAD like in Fukushima?

  6. Did you tell them that it causes cancer and is now in their milk? That President Kennedy knew back in 1962 that Strontium 90 from above ground nuclear testing (the same S 90 that is found in nuclear power production and accidents today) in the US had migrated to their parents baby teeth via milk when they were kids, and that even then it was known to cancer? This was before the NRC had turned pro with propagating lies at our kids expense. Spin on, NRC, spin on…

  7. I wonder — did you also ask them what the National Academy of Sciences is? or, if they knew what BEIR VII meant? or, what they concluded about radiation in June of 2005?
    Did you ask them if they knew that they were up to 6 times more susceptible to the negative health effects of ionizing radiation than is an adult white male? and that in utero, the effects are even more pronounced? or that women are also more susceptible than men to its effects?
    Did you ask them if they knew that arsenic and lead were “natural,” and all around us, often in our food and water?
    I was never one to use “scare tactics” on kids; it’s mean and unethical. But so is the incremental “normalization” of something that is largely of potential harm, especially to those with primitive or incomplete understanding of the topic. This seemingly innocent “softening up” technique going on with kids seems less about clarification than it is about removing deserved healthy suspicion and skepticism of the effects of ionizing radiation.

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