2017 Certificate Presentations

Basic Principles of Personal Protection In a Radiation Environment

​By nuclear war, terrorism, or an accident at a nuclear power plant, the odds increasingly favor that sectors of the population will be exposed to potentially harmful levels of nuclear radiation. To mitigate this threat, concerned citizens must acquire a basic knowledge of radiation and its biological effects.

This presentation introduced the audience to the scientific knowledge needed for safety and survival in a nuclear or radiation emergency, including the characteristics of a radioactively contaminated environment, the hazards to health created by this contamination, and some basic principles that must be clearly understood in order to develop a lifesaving response.

Global and Personal Realities of the Nuclear Era

Nuclear technology produced the bomb that ended World War II, launched the nuclear energy program, underpinned the Cold War and the 20th century “Arms Race”, and gave us the means to find and eliminate cancer tumors. Then, in 2011, nuclear technology experienced the unthinkable: the still unresolved catastrophe of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant, a reactor design previously hailed as failsafe. Today the risks of nuclear technology are juxtaposed with the prospect and hope that nuclear energy may be the only viable solution to global warming.  



This presentation reviewed the realities of our historic and continuing experiment with nuclear reactions. The audience was asked to consider the unmanageable, unthinkable consequences if we fail at this project.

Unleashing the Power of an Atom: Nuclear Energy Foundations and Overview

The nucleus of the atom has unleashed energy which needs to be understood, along with its impact on human civilization. This presentation introduced the basic principles of atomic theory, comprised of atomic and nuclear structures and neutron-induced fission chain reactions. The types of nuclear reactions, such as spontaneous disintegration (radioactive decay) and interactions between a particle and a nucleus, were discussed.


Analysis of the products of nuclear fission reactions facilitates an understanding of the immense amount of heat generated, which can either be used as an energy source or a weapon of destruction.

Radiation Fundamentals 1: Physical Principles and Properties of Ionizing Radiation

This presentation surveyed the concepts and vocabulary needed for a high-level understanding of the physical principles of ionizing radiation. The talk explained in turn: (1) the structure of the atom, the difference between elements and isotopes, and the ionization of matter; (2) the types of electromagnetic and particulate ionizing radiation and their interactions with matter; (3) radioactivity, natural versus man-made radioisotopes, fission, fusion, and the sources of ionizing radiation; and finally (4) the measurement of radiation and units of radiation dose.  



The participants gained an appreciation for the magnitudes involved: the smallness of the atomic scale and the greatness of the energies produced.

Radiation Fundamentals 2: Biological Principles and Medical Effects of Ionizing Radiation

This presentation explored the effects of ionizing radiation on the cell and the organism as a whole.  The review included: (a) the interaction of ionizing radiation on the cellular medium and damage to DNA and other macromolecules; (b) the nuclear target hypothesis and the effects of DNA damage and repair mechanisms, cell death, survival, and mutation; (c) the Law of Bergonié and Tribondeau as it relates to acute radiation syndrome and the four effected organ systems from whole body irradiation.  



The presentation also contrasted external and internal exposure and briefly touched on the various health implications that arise from internal contamination with different radioisotopes.  Lastly, it will briefly reviewed low-level exposure, cancer, and genetic effects of ionizing radiation.

Public Health and the Management of Nuclear and Radiation Emergencies

In the 21st century, social and digital globalization has revolutionized approaches to public health management of disasters and concepts of emergency preparedness.  Since Fukushima in 2011 there has been greater realization of how terrorist-related or natural forms of disaster can intersect with nuclear energy infrastructure for prolonged and widespread public danger.  



This talk examined the evolution and changes in US approaches to public health management of disasters and emergency preparedness. Specific to radiation emergencies, the presentation considered past and existing threats, potential for effective management and preparedness for these threats, and important considerations for the future of radiation emergency management from the public health perspective

Responding Priorities for Health Care Providers and Emergency Professionals in Western New York

In this region there are nuclear power plants on both sides of the Canada-United States border, along with numerous chemical factories, buried radioactive waste from World War II atomic bomb materials, and university labs and medical facilities that house radioactive materials. The potential for a radiological disaster from natural environmental causes, human error, aging nuclear power plants or radiological terrorism make this region of the United States vulnerable.



This study used original research in Western New York State, which includes the Buffalo/Niagara region, to address the gaps in knowledge of nuclear ionizing radiation, perceptions of risk, emergency self efficacy and willingness to respond to any nuclear event. The study’s intent was to reveal the need, content and potential improvements in radiation emergency awareness and training that would help prepare the medical community and first responders in their mission to protect and strengthen the security and well-being of the region’s citizenry in any radiation emergency.

From X-rays to Cancer Treatment: Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy in Your Life

Most of us, at some point in our lives, will need to undergo procedures involving the use of a form of diagnostic imaging such as angiography, colonoscopy, mammography or simple x-rays, and/or the use of radiotherapy or nuclear medical for the treatment of a disease such as cancer.



This presentation explored the various types of radiation used in the context of diagnostic and therapeutic applications, as well as the potential short and long-term benefits and risks. It also examined what strategies and therapies can be used to mitigate side effects or adverse reactions that may result from radiation treatment.

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