Concern Over Effects of Radiation on Man
Researeh on Radiation-Free Hydrogen Fusion
Disclosure by British and American atomic energy authorities on Jan. 24 that significant progress had been made toward controlling the power produced in the process of hydrogen fusion kindled hopes for eventual elimination of one of the major hazards of the atomic age. The process of uranium fission, now used to generate atomic power, produces radioactive end-products and raises formidable problems of waste disposal. The fusion process involves no such hazards and it promises to make available virtually unlimited quantities of power at competitive costs.
The United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Russia are pursuing intensive research on the fusion process. However, a generation may pass before it can be developed to the point of practical and widespread application. Henry DeWolf Smyth, formerly a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, said on Jan. 30 that “What has been achieved so far is merely the first stage in a long, long period of study.”
Facilities to produce power through splitting the atom are therefore likely to be undergoing expansion for many years to come. As a result, unprecedented amounts of harmful radioactive substances may be released into the atmosphere. Many public health authorities believe that growth in the use of atomic energy and of the products of atomic fission holds a greater threat to the well-being of the population at large than does the testing of atomic weapons.