Don’t be scared of Ionising Radiation

When it comes to emotive topics in physics teaching, radioactivity is up there. We have experienced colleagues who would refuse to work with school radioactive sources, even though there you generally encounter more risk while boiling a kettle. But you need to register, store and handle them properly or you could land your school with a fine.

Thomas and Robin talk radiation and encourage you to get over the administrative hurdle, talk to your RPS and get trained in the use of sources so you can teach radioactivity with sources. If your school doesn’t have an RPS and you don’t know where to start, make sure you have a CLEAPSS membership and give them a call (see links for how to contact CLEAPSS).

Surprisingly, the greatest risk is financial as falling foul of the regulations can result in a LARGE fine, so do make sure you satisfy all the requirements. You will need a Radiation Protection Officer (different to the RPS mentioned above, and generally more ‘expert’ on the regs). Between the RPO and CLEAPSS you should get enough advice to become compliant (or rarely to conclude that radioactive sources are not an option in your school).

So whilst you shouldn’t be gung-ho, this is more to ensure you don’t risk a fine; the sources themselves are not inherently dangerous if handled carefully.


CLEAPSS – why join?

PDF L93 Ionising Radiations and Radioactive Substances – CLEAPSS

XKCD – comparing radioactive doses

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