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Background Radiation

Last updated: November 30, 2020

What Does Background Radiation Mean?

Background radiation is all around us and is emitted naturally as well as from man-made sources. Natural sources of background radiation consist of three different categories—cosmic, terrestrial, and internal—and include cosmic rays, rocks and soil, and living things.

The largest source of man-made radiation exposure is due to medical testing and treatment.

Safeopedia Explains Background Radiation

The highest known background radiation exposure was recorded in the Indian states of Kerala and Madras. Some 140,000 people in those states receive, on average, a dose of 35 millisievert/year from gamma radiation. According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), an exposure of 50 millisievert per year is not harmful to the people if it comes from nature.

Since radiation is present in the environment and in our bodies, avoiding radiation exposure completely is not possible. However, there are several methods which people can follow to minimize their exposure to radiation sources:

  • Limiting time of exposure
  • Getting further away from the source
  • Using lead, concrete, or water as radiation barriers
  • Putting the radioactive materials into containment

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