Some facts about radiation

xkcd, an online cartoon has a great infographic comparing radiation exposure from various sources, including the  “accidents” and the current Japanese situation.

There’s a lot of discussion of radiation from the Fukushima plants, along with comparisons to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Radiation levels are often described as “<X> times the normal level” or “<Y>% over the legal limit,” which can be pretty confusing.

Ellen, a friend of mine who’s a student at Reed and Senior Reactor Operator at the Reed Research Reactor, has been spending the last few days answering questions about radiation dosage virtually nonstop (I’ve actually seen her interrupt them with “brb, reactor”). She suggested a chart might help put different amounts of radiation into perspective, and so with her help, I put one together. She also made one of her own; it has fewer colors, but contains more information about what radiation exposure consists of and how it affects the body.

Here’s the article: which links to the chart:

Radiation facts infographic - xkcd


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  • thor42

    A very good chart. It puts things into perspective very nicely. It should be remembered that the US, Soviet Union and France used to carry out atmospheric nuclear tests. Those would have created a vastly greater amount of radiation than this piddly little nuclear plant. The Japanese should be looking at how to encase the reactor in a sarcophagus-type structure, like the one at Chernobyl. It’s unlikely that this complex will be able to be restored to full working order, so enclosing it is about the only option.

  • moolooman

    This shows it in a different light.

  • mediatart

    The one about the bananas is correct. They should be sold individually with a large warning sign- thats if the hysteria is applied equally.

  • Very interesting. Puts things into perspective. It is an indictment on the MSM that when effluent comes in contact with the rotor & the public turn to them for facts all that can be relied upon is disinformation & half truths.

  • sandynobb

    I already knew that the luminous dials of old watches used radium paint. But, doing some research, my grandfather’s watch could be emitting more than 1 mSv per hour. In other words, a 50th of the maximum per annum dose permitted for US radiation workers.