Many students do not clearly distinguish between irradiation and contamination of an object

Quantum and Nuclear


They may also think that an object exposed to ionizing radiation will become radioactive.

Some students may believe that radiation is radioactive and that when absorbed, the radiation can cause objects to become radioactive or that radiation can be re-emitted from objects which have previously absorbed it.

For example, this may present itself as "irradiation of food results in radioactive food".


  • Prather, E. and Harrington, R. () Student understanding of ionizing radiation and radioactivity, Journal of College Science Teaching.

  • Millar, R. () School students’ understanding of key ideas about radioactivity and ionizing radiation, Public Understanding of Science, 3, UK,


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

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