Toronto Star

Nuclear research: Contributi­ons to improving health, environmen­t and standard of living


Nuclear technology is vital for more than just providing reliable, low-carbon energy – it also has life-saving medical applicatio­ns and improves manufactur­ing, mining, transport and agricultur­e. Canada is not only among the world’s leading nations in nuclear research, it is also a world leader in the production of medical isotopes.

Nuclear research facilities have a long history of powering research in Canada. They produce neutrons, which are used by a range of researcher­s to solve research problems in all five of Canada’s science and technology priority areas.


Neutrons are used in research that furthers the understand­ing of plant nutrition. These findings provide essential informatio­n about advancing global food security in an era of climate change. Researcher­s also use neutrons for analyzing the flow of pollutants in ecosystems and evaluating their impact on soil, lakes, streams and organisms. Neutrons are also used to study the effects of radiation exposure on organisms at the cellular level.


The use of radiation and radioisoto­pes for screening, diagnosis and therapy of various medical conditions is growing worldwide. With a long history of using neutron-based medical isotopes to diagnose and treat disease, Canada’s ongoing research efforts include new medical isotopes and new pharmaceut­icals using these medical isotopes.


Neutrons penetrate deep inside materials and provide informatio­n about interior structures at the atomic level. This makes them valuable for material science research and for developing advanced materials, for example, for clean energy technologi­es and informatio­n technology hardware. For the aerospace industry, neutrons are used to detect flaws in parts, which can lead to a better lifespan and safety of materials. Research that is examining the effects of cosmic radiation on aerospace components will inform the design of the satellites, space telescopes and interplane­tary space probes.


Neutrons are used to determine the compositio­n and geological age of Canada’s landmasses – they are also used to identify deposits of resources, including gold and uranium. Neutrons are used to create the nuclear gauges used in the oil and gas sector to characteri­ze undergroun­d wells and pipes, and to detect leaks. Emerging small modular reactor technologi­es have tremendous potential to power resource extraction equipment at remote sites and provide energy for remote communitie­s in Northern Canada.

 ??  ?? ISTOCKPHOT­O.COM There is a high demand for medical isotopes , which are used worldwide for screening of various medical conditions.
ISTOCKPHOT­O.COM There is a high demand for medical isotopes , which are used worldwide for screening of various medical conditions.

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