Potassium Iodide

Radiation - FAQ

 

radiation symbolWhat is radiation?

The word "radiation" conjures up frightening images of mushroom clouds and Chernobyl, but in reality, it's just a form of energy which we are exposed to every day. Radiation can be produced by technology through nuclear reactions, but it also comes from natural sources, like the sun and the earth. In "normal" amounts, it is generally safe - it's when we are exposed to radiation in unusually high doses - either all at once or over time - that it becomes a problem.

Are there different types of radiation?

Short answer: Yes.

Radiation falls into either of two divisions of the electromagnetic spectrum, depending upon how much energy it generates:

According to the Health Physics Society, there are 5 different types of ionizing radiation:

Nuclear power plantWhere is it found in our daily lives?

Some sources and everyday uses of radiation include:

How is radiation measured?

Different units of measure are used to measure radiation, depending upon the context.

A dose of radiation absorbed by a person's body is measured in rads or grays (Gy.) One rad = 100 grays. A centigray (cGy) is 1/100 of a gray.

The biological risk of being exposed to radiation is measured using rems or sieverts (Sv). 1/1000 sievert is a millisievert (mSv).

Learn more - http://www.sievert-system.org/WebMasters/en/mesure.html

How much exposure is considered "safe?"

Being exposed to over 100 mSv of radiation a year increases a person's cancer risk. Being exposed to over 1000 mSv in a year elevates your risk of developing a fatal, radiation-related cancer to 20%.

Under normal circumstances, our annual exposure to harmful radiation is far less. The average person living in the US is exposed to about 6.2 mSv per year, the average worldwide is only 2.8 mSv per year. On average, just 14% of our total annual radiation exposure is from medical tests (like x-rays and CT scans) and only about 0.25% is from nuclear sources. Most of the radiation we are exposed to is "background radiation" - natural radiation from radon, cosmic and external sources.

Next: Radiation and your health


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