Policy Consideration 1: US Congress must find ways to better inform the public perception of radiation or risk reducing scientific advantage, economic advantage and domestic job creation.
Many citizens possess a passing knowledge of radiation and develop opinions about the scientific merits of radiation and radiation safety from what they see in the popular media. Many people, some of whom are elected to higher office, make no distinction between the words radiation and radioactive. People fear what they cannot see and cannot understand. Fear and media misrepresentation limit US effectiveness in dealing with issues concerning ionizing radiation. This holds true in food irradiation, homeland security, power and materials processing. This education knowledge gap translates into outdated federal rules and regulations, public mistrust and fear, loss of scientific support for creating safe new technologies that will create jobs, tax revenues and bolster US competitiveness. US Congress must address this issue through national dialog, public service announcements, targeted grant funding, student support, and Regulatory Agency continuing education support. While there are valid safety and security concerns with numerous projects, proposals and efforts involving radiation of all forms, CIRMS believes that immense good that can be derived from a consistent policy stance toward appropriate concerns in the field based on a fundamentally grounded understanding of actual vs. perceived threats. The focus of the 2011 CIRMS Annual Meeting concerns the “Public Perception of Radiation.”