20 Science Questions

that U.S. presidential candidates were asked in 2016

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power does not add to greenhouse gases but security of the hazardous waste that is produced is important from both an environmental and military aspect. Thorium is an alternate fuel for nuclear power that might produce less hazardous waste and less radioactive material that can be used in a nuclear weapon however technical difficulties with the process are still being addressed.

     The current nuclear power plants and nuclear waste sites already in existence are risks for radiation leaking from stored waste or decaying facilities. While health information from Chernobyl does suggest that the risks of radiation poisoning are less of a risk of causing cancer or other health problems over the long term than originally feared but it did cause health problems during the acute exposure phase of the nuclear incident.

     Thyroid cancer was found to be a more common problem associated with acute exposure to a nuclear incident. Adequate iodine stores can be effective for reducing that risk. Being iodine sufficient prior to a nuclear incident provides the most protection to the thyroid from the risks of radioactive iodine collecting in an organ that is deficient and seeking more of the mineral. Taking a high dose supplement of iodine during the acute phase of a nuclear leak can help protect residents in the area from developing thyroid cancer because adequate supplies of iodine helps prevent absorption of the radioactive iodine.

     Ensuring iodine sufficiency for American citizens could help protect their bodies to absorb less radioactive iodine in the unlikely event of a nuclear incident, and on a daily basis could also be helping protect their health from the more common risks of hypothyroidism, obesity, depression, Type II diabetes, [1], breast and prostate cancer, having a child with autism, and other chronic health issues (iodine is really important throughout the body but is found in more quantity in the thyroid, pancreas, mammary and prostate glands, and other endocrine tissue).

     Advances in computer technology and environmental sensors should make the design of radiation monitoring equipment easy. The sensors would be placed in areas downwind of nuclear sites and readings would be sent to the internet and to a warning light, buzzer, or human whose job would be to monitor the sensor readings for any increase in radiation levels. 


  1. http://www.worldhealth.net/forum/thread/99044/low-iodine-found-in-diabetics/?page=1

20 Science Questions for the 2016 Presidential Candidates  --by Shawn Otto for sciencedebate.org; See the questions here: #11.