FACTS ABOUT RADIATION AND HEALTH
Radiation is a form of energy. Radiation comes from man-made sources such as x-ray machines, from the sun and outer space, and from some radioactive materials such as uranium in soil. Small quantities of radioactive materials occur naturally in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and even in our own bodies. Radiation that goes inside our bodies causes what we refer to as internal exposure. External exposure is from radiation from sources outside our body, such as radiation from sunlight and man-made and naturally occurring radioactive materials. Radiation doses that people receive are measured in units called "rem" or "sievert." (One sievert is equal to 100 rem.) Scientists estimate that the average person in the United States receives a dose of about one-third of a rem per year. Eighty percent of typical human exposure comes from natural sources and 20 percent comes from artificial radiation sources, primarily medical X-rays
Health Effects of Radiation Exposure
The three basic ways to reduce radiation exposure are through:
TIME - Decrease the amount of time you spend near the source of radiation.
DISTANCE - Increase your distance from a radiation source.
SHIELDING - Increase the shielding between you and the radiation source. Shielding is anything that creates a barrier between people and the radiation source. Depending on the type of radiation, the shielding can range from something as thin as a plate of window glass or as thick as several feet of concrete. Being inside a building or a vehicle can provide shielding from some kinds of radiation.