A Chart to Better Understand Radiation Levels and Their Effects on People [Updated] A Chart to Better Understand Radiation Levels and Their Effects on People [Updated]
Lifestyle

A Chart to Better Understand Radiation Levels and Their Effects on People [Updated]

by Ben Jervey

March 17, 2011

[Updated with new chart below]: If you're at all like me, while watching the nuclear crisis unfold at Fukushima, you've been really confused by the reports of levels of radiation released at the plants, and at various locations nearby. One report, for instance, says that "radiation levels near the stricken plant on the northeast coast reached as high as 400 millisieverts (mSv) an hour." But what does that mean for people?

The International Atomic Energy Agency explains the measurement like so:

A person's radiation exposure due to all natural sources amounts on average to about 2.4 millisievert (mSv) per year. A sievert (Sv) is a unit of effective dose of radiation. Depending on geographical location, this figure can vary by several hundred percent.

Since one sievert is a large quantity, radiation doses are typically expressed in millisievert (mSv) or microsievert (µSv), which is one-thousandth or one millionth of a sievert. For example, one chest X-ray will give about 0.2 mSv of radiation dose.

For further information on radiation, see Radiation in Everyday Life.

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A Chart to Better Understand Radiation Levels and Their Effects on People [Updated]