Glowing in the dark

How much radiation are you getting in a year?

On average, we are all exposed to about 3 millisieverts of radiation a year from natural sources, such as Earth’s radon gas, and the universe’s cosmic rays.  Experts recommend that the public receive less than 4 millisierverts total a year.  However, they do not include medical procedures in that limit because the procedures may bring health benefits. Here’s a list of common sources of radiation that we receive:

Average Radiation Dose to Entire Body (millisieverts)

Natural background (U.S.) per year: 3.1

Airport scanner (backscatter method): 0.0001

Natural gas cooking per year: 0.0004

Arm x-ray: 0.001

Bone density x-ray: 0.001

Highway travel per year: 0.004

Dental x-ray: 0.005

Domestic airline flight (five hours): 0.017

Smoking one pack of cigarettes per day for a year: 0.36

Mammogram: 0.4

Fukushima emergency workers per hour1.0

Brain CT scan: 2.0

Thyroid scan (nuclear medicine): 4.8

Brain scan (nuclear medicine): 6.9

Pelvis CT scan: 10

Coronary CT angiography: 16

Astronaut on space station for one year: 72


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