Thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster, it has become clear that radioactivity might be less harmful than originally thought. Some researchers even believe it may be beneficial in small doses.
That is a surprising finding. Three decades ago, half of Western Europe was contaminated with weakly radioactive precipitation. The public at large was taught to view the ubiquitous radioactivity as particularly insidious.
But now, apparently not everything that gives off radiation is bad after all. The body seems to be able to cope with low doses of radon. “We are continuing to search for damage to the genome,” says Fournier, “but so far we aren’t seeing anything.”
Who would voluntarily breathe in radioactive gas? These days, there are people who do. They swear by the notorious noble gas radon, created by the decay of uranium: They inhale it deeply.