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Understanding Safe and Dangerous Radiation Levels

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Safe Radiation Levels

It’s easy to be concerned about the levels of radiation you and your loved ones are exposed to on a regular basis. Are you putting yourselves at risk for serious health conditions from this exposure? In reality, some radiation is completely normal and safe to be around.

After all, there are radioactive materials naturally found in the environment around us, in some of the foods we eat, such as bananas, and even in our own bodies. The mineral potassium creates radiation! We are also exposed to radiation through X-rays and other tests.

But at a certain point, your radiation exposure turns into a potentially harmful level that puts your health at risk. So what are safe radiation levels and at what point do conditions become dangerous?

What Are Normal Radiation Levels?

All the time, we are exposed to radiation, which is measured in millisievert, or mSv. The radiation we come in contact with naturally each year is about 2.00 mSv. X-rays give you anywhere from 0.01 to 1.50 mSv, depending on which part of your body you have scanned. CT scans give exposure to even more at 2.00 to 16.00 mSv.

When Do Radiation Levels Get Dangerous?

Levels of radiation that show a clear sign of cancer increases is 100.00 mSv per year. It’s important to consider how radiation levels can add up from different sources, so the total should be well below that in a year to be safe. The 100.00 mSv mark is also the limit that radiation workers are supposed to have for their exposure within a five-year timespan.

And of course, a radioactive disaster can greatly increase people’s exposure. Just so you have an idea in the difference between lower and very high levels, staffers who passed away within a month of Chernobyl had a dosage of 6,000.00 mSv. A single dosage that could result in radiation sickness is a level of 1,000.00 mSv, while a single dose that could cause you to die within a few weeks is a level of 10,000.00 mSv.

Checking Your Radiation Levels

Whether you’re concerned about your environment or just plain curious to know what level of radiation you might be exposed to on a daily basis, it’s possible to test radiation levels on your own. To know how much radiation is present in your home, your office or another setting, you can use a meter to check the levels. A radiation Geiger counter shows you levels of alpha, beta, gamma and X-rays in your setting. 

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