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Key Issues Nuclear Energy The Basics Everyday Exposures to Radiation

Everyday Exposures to Radiation

Average annual radiation doseó360 millirems per person. 300 from natural sources.

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Sleeping next to someone for 8 hours: 2 mrems

Exposure comes from the naturally radioactive potassium in the other person's body

Coal plant, living within 50 miles: .03 mrem

There is much thorium and uranium in coal. Living within 50 miles of a nulcear power plant adds .009 mrem of exposure. Both figures are considered extremely low levels.

Living in a masonry home: 7 mrems

stone, brick and adobe have natural radioisotopes in them.

Living on the Earth: 200 mrems

We are living in a sea of radon. It is made from the natural decay of uranium and thorium in the soil, left over from the creation of the solar system. Radon is a rare gas that diffuses out of soil and into the air. It contributes more than half of our background exposure.

Smoking: up to 16,000 mrems

The tobacco leaf acts like the absorbing surface of charcoal in a radon test kit. It collects long-lived isotopes of airborne radon, like lead-210 and polonium. Small portions of the lungs can get relatively whopping doses, compared to background levels.

Porcelain teeth or crowns: tenths of a rem

Uranium is often added to these dental products to increase whiteness and florescence.

Air Travel : 1 mrem per 1000 miles

30,000 feet above the ground you're closer to the ionizing radiation (high-energy gammas well as particles) from the sun.

Grand Central Station, NYC: 120 mrem for employees

Its granite walls have a high uranium content.

Brazil Nuts: ??

This is the world's most radioactive food due to high radium concentrations 1000-times that of average foods.

The US Capitol Building in Washington DC : ??

This building is so radioactive, due to the high uranium content in its granite walls, it could never be licensed as a nuclear power reactor site.

Sources: Living with Radiation, the First Hundred Years
America the Powerless
Los Alamos Science
Bluebells and Nuclear Energy