ANS American Nuclear Society
ANS
ANS HomeAboutMembersJoinContactSearch
Resources

Public Information

Teachers and Students

Media

Nuclear Professionals
ANS > Public Information > Resources > 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 about 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 printable version.

Factors Common Sources of Radiation Your Annual Dose
Where
You
Live

Cosmic Radiation (from outer space)
Exposure depends on your elevation (how much air is above you to block radiation).  Amounts listed are per year.


26 mrem
Terrestrial (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)
30 mrem
House Construction
I live in a stone, adobe, brick, or concrete building (7 mrem)
0 mrem
Power Plants
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)
0 mrem
Food
Water
Air

Internal Radiation ***
From food (Carbon-14 and Potassium-40) and from water (radon dissolved in water)
40 mrem
From air (radon)
200 mrem
How
You
Live

Weapons test fallout (less than 1 mrem) *
1 mrem
Jet plane travel hours: (0.5 mrem per hour in the air)
0 mrem

I have porcelain crowns or false teeth (0.07 mrem) **
0 mrem

I've gone through luggage inspection at the airport (0.002 mrem)
0 mrem

I watch TV (1 mrem) *
0 mrem

I use a video display terminal (computer screen) (1 mrem) *
0 mrem

I have a smoke detector (0.008 mrem)
0 mrem

I use a gas camping lantern (0.2 mrem)
0 mrem

I wear a plutonium-powered pacemaker (100 mrem)
0 mrem
Medical
Tests

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):
(1 mrem)
0 mrem
X-Ray - Dental:
(1 mrem)
0 mrem
X-Ray - Chest:
(6 mrem)
0 mrem
X-Ray - Pelvis/Hip:
(65 mrem)
0 mrem
X-Ray - Skull/Neck:
(20 mrem)
0 mrem
X-Ray - Barium Enema:
(405 mrem)
0 mrem
X-Ray - Upper GI:
(245 mrem)
0 mrem
Nuclear Medicine (e.g. thyroid scan):
(14 mrem)
0 mrem

Your Estimated Annual Radiation Dose:  296 mrem


Geiger Counter Reading

* 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.
*** Average values.
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).
Questions or comments about the American Nuclear Society web site?  Contact the ANS Webmaster.