Germany radiation authority: Population assesses risks incorrectly

Germans are in general ignorant of the most important sources of everyday radiation and fail to assess the dangers accordingly, according to a survey conducted by the BfS state authority for radiation protection published on Wednesday.

As many as 73.9 per cent of those surveyed said they were “fairly” or “very” concerned about radiation from nuclear power stations.

Radiation from mobile communications masts drew a similar response from 51.4 per cent. Mobile phones and tablets were a source of concern to 51 per cent.

But only 23 per cent were worried about environmental radon, even though the gas forms the largest average source of radiation over the year and is the second-most frequent cause of lung cancer after smoking.

According to the BfS, the gas, which has no smell or taste, is responsible for around 5 per cent of all deaths from lung cancer.

The authority urged people to ventilate their rooms frequently to avoid a build-up of the chemically inert gas.

“The study shows that risks from nuclear power are overestimated and the danger from radon underestimated by the population,” BfS president Inge Paulini said.

But the widespread notion that radiation from mobile phones could cause genetic damage was false, she said.

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