Many students are aware that radiation can cause cancer but few are aware of beneficial uses

Quantum and Nuclear


You may consider taking time in your lessons to explore the benefits of radiation, such as medical treatments and sterilization.

Resources to Address This

  • This physics narrative describes the use of radiation in radiotherapy which can be used to show that radiation can be beneficial as well as harmful.

    A link to a simple simulation in which the students can explore radiotherapy is provided. This simulation allows students to explore the effects of radiation during radiotherapy. It can be used to compare the does received by different organs and discuss how dose is limited by moving the source relative to the tumour.

    When using these resources, discuss how risks and benefits are both considered during any treatment.

    View Resource
  • Students can use an activity which provides the opportunity for them to compare different doses of radiation, linking these with expected changes in life expectancy. The unusual unit of a “Banana Equivalent Dose” is used.

    View Resource
  • Use the linked worksheet and teach notes to discuss how X-ray imaging is highly beneficial in medical diagnosis but doses present some risk to the patient and medical staff.

    View Resource


  • Eijkelhof, H. M. C., () Radiation and risk in physics education, PhD thesis.

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