March 25, 2011

Your Guide to Radiation Sources and Doses


Understanding the basics of radiation is not easy. With the media full of news about the failed nuclear power plant at Fukushima Japan, we are all confronted with the daunting challenge of trying to make sense out of what we see on TV and read in newspapers and blogs.

I created this chart Your Guide to Radiation Sources and Doses to provide a quick reference to the comparative intensity of radiation sources and doses. The units of measurement to describe the potency of radiation gets tricky right off the bat. This chart uses both the United States system and the metric system, making it easy to cross check with measurements you see or hear in the media. Rems and millirems are units of radiation used in the United States. Sieverts and millisieverts are units used in the metric system. You see them in the chart right next to each other.

The chart places the most potentially dangerous sources and doses of radiation at the top. At the bottom of the chart are the more common sources of radiation that we all encounter on a regular basis in our daily lives, no matter where we live on the plant.

The chart is a compilation of educational, scientific and governmental publications. Sometimes they do not agree in detail among themselves. Editorial decisions are necessary to round out the slight discrepancies.

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