Radiation is a natural part of our environment. We receive radiation from the sun, from 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. The amount of radiation given off in the normal operation of a nuclear plant is smaller than the amount we would receive on a coast-to-coast airplane trip. Small amounts of radiation are referred to as low-level radiation. Some familiar sources of low-level radiation are shown below.

Although radiation is invisible, it can be measured. Radiation is measured in units called rems and millirems. A millirem is 1/1000th of a rem. The rem is a unit of measure that takes into account the effect that different types of radiation have on the body.

Amounts of Low-Level Radiation From Common Sources
Gastrointestinal tract X-ray
210 millirems
Average from natural background in SC per year
200 millirems
Chest X-ray
10 millirems
Roundtrip coast-to-coast jet airplane flight
4 millirems
Site boundary of average nuclear generating plant, per year
Less than 1 millirem
emergency preparedness
emergency classifications
emergency instructions
evacuation information
potassium iodide
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