Radiation Dose Chart
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> Radiation Dose Chart
We live in a radioactive world - humans always have. Radiation is part of our natural environment. We are exposed to radiation from materials in the earth itself, from naturally occurring radon in the air, from outer space, and from inside our own bodies (as a result of the food and water we consume). This radiation is measured in units called millirems (mrems).
The average dose per person from all sources is
360 mrems per year. It is not, however, uncommon for any of us to receive far more than that in a given year (largely due to medical procedures we may undergo). International Standards allow exposure to as much as 5,000 mrems a year for those who work with and around radioactive material.
The interactive dose chart appears below, but you can also download a
Common Sources of Radiation
Your Annual Dose
(from outer space)
Exposure depends on your elevation (how much air is above you to block radiation). Amounts listed are per year.
at sea level (26 mrem)
0-1000 ft (28 mrem)
1-2000 ft (31 mrem)
2-3000 ft (35 mrem)
3-4000 ft (41 mrem)
4-5000 ft (47 mrem)
5-6000 ft (52 mrem)
6-7000 ft (66 mrem)
7-8000 ft (79 mrem)
8-9000 ft (96 mrem)
(from the ground)
I live in a state that borders the Gulf or Atlantic coasts (16 mrem)
I live in the Colorado Plateau area (around Denver) (63 mrem)
I live elsewhere in the continental U.S. (30 mrem)
I live in a stone, adobe, brick, or concrete building (7 mrem)
I live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant (0.01 mrem)
I live within 50 miles of a coal-fired power plant (0.03 mrem)
From food (Carbon-14 and Potassium-40) and from water (radon dissolved in water)
From air (radon)
Weapons test fallout (less than 1 mrem) *
Jet plane travel hours:
(0.5 mrem per hour in the air)
I have porcelain crowns or false teeth (0.07 mrem) **
I've gone through luggage inspection at the airport (0.002 mrem)
I watch TV (1 mrem) *
I use a video display terminal (computer screen) (1 mrem) *
I have a smoke detector (0.008 mrem)
I use a gas camping lantern (0.2 mrem)
I wear a plutonium-powered pacemaker (100 mrem)
Medical Diagnostic Tests
Number of millirems are per procedure and are average values. Actual numbers may vary. Enter the number of procedures per year.
X-Ray - Extremity (arm, hand, foot, leg):
X-Ray - Dental:
X-Ray - Chest:
X-Ray - Pelvis/Hip:
X-Ray - Skull/Neck:
X-Ray - Barium Enema:
X-Ray - Upper GI:
Nuclear Medicine (e.g. thyroid scan):
Your Estimated Annual Radiation Dose: 296 mrem
The value is less than 1, but adding a value of 1 would be reasonable.
Some of the radiation sources listed in this chart result in an exposure to only one part of the body. For example, false teeth and crowns result in a radiation dose to the mouth. The annual dose numbers given here represent the "effective dose" to the whole body.
How is radiation measured?
The units used to measure radiation are the rem and the millirem (1/1,000th of a rem). The international unit for measuring radiation exposure is the sievert (Sv), and 1 Sv = 100 rems. Therefore, to convert from the mrem values above to mSv (millisievert), divide the value by 100.
Primary sources for this information are National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements Reports: #92 Public Radiation Exposure from Nuclear Power Generation in the Untired States (1987); #93 Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the United States (1987); #94 Exposure of the Population in the United States and Canada from Natural Background Radiation (1987); #95 Radiation Exposure of the U.S. population from Consumer Products and Miscellaneous Sources, (1987); and #100 Exposure of the U.S. Population from Diagnostic Medical Radiation (1989).
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