Facts About Radiation

Radiation Scale

Radioactivity is the result of a natural and spontaneous process that occurs when an unstable atom emits or radiates excess energy in the form of particles or waves. This phenomenon occurs all around us including in the environment, certain foods, medical processes, industrial equipment and more.

In the U.S., the unit used to measure annual radiation dose is the millirem (mrem). The average annual radiation dose per person from natural and man-made sources is about 620 mrem. Variations in annual dose can occur through participation in voluntary activities such as medical procedures, air travel and smoking.

How much is too much?

This scale (in millirems) shows how some common sources of radiation compare with doses known to impact health. Scale represents average yearly doses, except where noted.

Beneficial Uses of Radiation

  • X-rays
  • CT Scans
  • Cancer Treatment
  • Carbon Dating
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Food Sterilization

Protection from Radiation

  • Minimize Exposure Time
  • Increase Distance from Source
  • Add Shielding from Source
Pie Chart
Average Annual Radiation Doses

For more information:

Sarah Robertson, 208-526-0490, Sarah.Robertson@inl.gov Send e-mail, VCard icon
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