#8 Nuclear power saves lives

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Published on 03/01/2022

(unlike coal, it does not pollute the air and nuclear medicine… exists)

How does nuclear contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good health and well-being?

Global mortality due to air pollution by fine particles generated by the combustion of fossil fuels is estimated at more than 8 million premature deaths per year.

Populations who do not have access to modern energy sources for cooking and heating depend on solid fuels (firewood, manure, crop waste). The resulting indoor air pollution, which WHO considers “the greatest environmental risk to the health of poor people”, is responsible for the deaths of at least 1.6 million people each year.

Nuclear power provides abundant and reliable energy for lighting, heating and powering electric vehicles without polluting the air.

Each year, more than 40 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed worldwide.

Nuclear medicine is an essential part of the diagnosis of health problems related to the functioning of organs, tissues or bones. Radioisotopes produced in nuclear reactors are used as tracers in PET scans, one of the most accurate ways to detect and assess most cancers.

Researchers analyse specific molecules inside the body using nuclear material. These techniques are an essential component of research in chronic diseases such as AIDS or Alzheimer’s disease.

Radiotherapy is used to treat many types of cancer, as well as other conditions such as Graves’ disease (the most common cause of hyperthyroidism). Most cancerous tumors are sensitive to radiation. There are many different treatments, with external or internal radiation, that can control or eliminate cancer by irradiating the area that contains it.

Cobalt-60, a nuclear byproduct, kills harmful and deadly bacteria making it an effective tool for sterilization of medical equipment such as syringes and catheters.

The full report of the World Nuclear Association is available here.