KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 — The brouhaha surrounding Lynas’ rare earths plant in Kuantan shows that Malaysians are not well-informed about radiation and radioactivity, an Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow said.
Ahmad Ibrahim said Malaysians generally are not aware about the existence of radiation around them and how the earth’s surface continuously emits radiation, known as background level of radiation.
“Those from the tin mining days would remember playing around as children in tin tailing areas. They may not have been aware that the radiation level from tin tailings is higher than background levels of radiation,” Ahmad said in a letter to The Star.
“I know of a colleague at the Academy of Sciences who was exposed to such tin tailing radiation and he has testified he has not experienced any negative health effects.”
According to Ahmad, a certain amount of radiation is inevitable in this age of digital economy and cyber communication. In fact, serious discussion is currently taking place around the world about 5G safety and its hazards.
Managing such hazards would pose many challenges for regulators in developing the best mechanism for mitigating the negative impacts.
“Many may also not be aware that radiation science is widely used in the fields of medicine, agriculture and food production,” said Ahmad.
He pointed out that many types of cancer are treated with radiation. Radiation is also often used for food preservation and in the non-destructive testing of materials to check on the safety of joints in the oil and gas industry.
Ahmad said it is time that experts from Nuclear Malaysia and universities to embark on a national roadshow to educate the public.
The roadshow can also doubled as educational programmes for the public to improve science literacy, where the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry can take charge.
It is not healthy for the public to be ill-informed as the nation embraces the new digital economy where radiation is a common feature of supporting technologies, he wrote.