How Much Are We Exposed to Radiation?

There is a lot of misinformation around in the press nowadays about radiation and in particular our exposure to various sources of radiation. It is not uncommon to see an article in a newspaper or magazine claiming something or other is about to cause us serious harm. Furthermore, when nuclear accidents happen, such as the Fukushima incident in 2011, it is once again brought the forefront of people’s thinking and people start to worry about living new nuclear power stations.

The radiation dose chart in the main pic and below is now being widely circulated on the internet and is an amazing visual representation of the amount of radiation we are subjected to in our daily lives. Some of it might worry you but some if may give you some comfort, as you will see from the radiation dose chart. I welcome any comments you have about the data, here are my takeaways.

  1. Flying for 5 hours is equal to 3 chest x-rays

Don’t worry about going to the doctors and getting that x-ray. I myself have been worried standing in front of that machine thinking I wonder what is being put through my body, as you will see, flying for just 5 hours (New York To LA in the chart example) is equivalent to 3 chest x-rays.

  1. Living near a Nuclear Power Plant is Safe (Unless there is an accident)

Ok, so now you are going to tell me that accidents happen and you shouldn’t risk it. Sure, but then other accidents are more common. Statistics vary widely but the Nuclear Industry recently said that the chances of a nuclear meltdown are as remote as 1 Million to 1 for new Nuclear power stations. If there is an accident, such as Fukushima, as you will see from the chart 2 weeks after the accident and still living in the town they were still only exposed to 2/5 extra radiation that anyone would receive from living near a nuclear power plant in a year. As you will also see from the radiation dose chart you are exposed from potassium in the body yearly which is way above what you are exposed to living near a Nuclear Power Plant.

  1. Mammograms are safe ladies, don’t wait.

In this day and age, mammograms are a fact of life for many women and this radiation dose chart should reassure those that are concerned about taking one. As you will see they are perfectly safe and well under that of a chest CT scan. If you have any concerns about your health you should get a mammogram as soon as possible.

  1. Radiation is not an excuse to go to the dentist

As you will see from the radiation dose chart radiation from a dental x-ray is minimal. Although, in my experience, many dentists now opt for an x-ray early on, you have nothing to worry about. Having a dental x-ray exposes you to just half of what the average person would receive in a normal day.

  1. Increased radiation from Cell phones is almost non-existent

I remember years ago when cell phones became very popular, there was a lot in the media about the potential radiation exposure from cell phones and cell phone towers, it was big news. Despite several studies there was no conclusive evidence and as the radiation dose chart shows it’s almost unreportable. 

I find this radiation exposure chart fascinating on many levels and hope it gives my readers a sense of relief if they were at all concerned about their radiation exposure. I think the chart itself is a great way to show large and small numbers and put things into context. 

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