Radiation is a natural part of our environment. It is not new or mysterious. We receive radiation from the sun, minerals in the earth, the food we eat and building materials in our houses. Even our bodies give off small amounts of radiation.
Exposure to extremely large amounts of radiation can be harmful, even fatal. However, the amount of radiation given off in the normal operation of a nuclear station is very small – smaller, in fact, than the amount we would receive on a coast-to-coast airplane trip.
Some familiar sources of radiation are shown in the following table. Although radiation is invisible, it can be measured. Radiation is measured in units called rems and millirems. The rem is a unit of measure that takes into account the effect different types of radiation have on the body. A millirem is 1/1000th of a rem.
|Amounts of Radiation from Common Sources||Millirems|
|Average annual radiation exposure from ALL sources||620|
|Natural Background Radiation||310|
(air travel, smoking, building materials, etc.)
(including living near a nuclear power station)
|Less than 1|