Radiation is everywhere in the natural environment, not just x-rays and CAT scans. Whether you're aware of it or not, your exposed to radiation every day, as you sleep, eat, and watch TV.
The average person gets about 360 mrems each year, but it's not uncommon to receive more.
For those who work with radioactive materials, the standard amount of milirems (mrem) of radiation that one can be exposed to is 5,000 mrem.
You can test how much radiation you're exposed to by taking the quiz below. Calculate your radiation exposure in mrems, and share your results in the comment box below.
Where do you live?
Cosmic Radiation exposure depends on your elevation from outer space. The elevation tells you how much air is between you and the radiation above.
- at sea level: 26 mrem
- 0- 1,000 feet: 28 mrem
- 1- 2,000 feet: 31 mrem
- 2- 3,000 feet: 35 mrem
- 3-4,000 feet: 41 mrem
- 4-5,000 feet: 47 mrem
- 5-6,000 feet: 52 mrem
- 6-7,000 feet: 66 mrem
- 7-8,000 feet: 79 mrem
- 8-9,000 feet: 96 mrem
- States that border the Gulf or Atlantic coasts: 16 mrem
- The Colorado Plateau area (around Denver): 63 mrem
- Anywhere else in the United States: 30 mrem
- House made out of adobe, stone, brick, or concrete: 7 mrem
- Live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant: 0.01 mrem
- Live within 50 miles of a coal- fired power plant: 0.03 mrem
Food, Water, Air
- Food (carbon and Potassium) and water (radon dissolved in water): 40 mrem
- From air (radon): 200 mrem
How You Live
- Weapons test fallout (less than 1 mrem): 1 mrem
- Jet plane travel per hour: 0.5 mrem/hr
- Porcelain crowns or false teeth: 0.07 mrem (radiation only to the mouth)
- Been through luggage inspection at the airport: 0.002 mrem
- Watch TV: 1 mrem
- Play video games on a console or computer: 1 mrem
- Have a smoke detector: 0.008 mrem
- Use a gas camping lantern: 0.2 mrem
- Wear a plutonium-powered pacemaker: 100 mrem
Medical Diagnostic Tests
The number of mrems are estimated to the closest value. Multiple the mrem count by the number of times each test has been preformed.
- X-Ray in an Extremity (arm, hand, foot, leg): 1 mrem
- X-Ray: Dental: 1 mrem
- X-Ray of the Chest: 6 mrem
- X-Ray of the Pelvis or Hip: 65 mrem
- X-Ray of the Skull or Neck: 20 mrem
- X-Ray of the Barium Enema: 405 mrem
- X-Ray of the Upper GI: 245 mrem
- CAT Scan of the head and body: 110 mrem
- Nuclear Medicine (thyroid scan, etc): 14 mrem
Radiation Exposure & Risks
- In-Flight Radiation and Its Effects on Crewmembers
We are exposed to it every day, but how much is too much?
- MedlinePlus: Radiation Exposure
Check out exposure and effects of radiation.
- Pregnancy and Radiation Exposure
What are the risks of radiation exposure to a pregnant mom and her unborn child?
- Radiation Protection Division
This site provides information about EPA's radiation protection activities and basic radiation science facts.
bryan, xray technician on October 17, 2011:
Just to clear things up, none of this everyday radiation is harmful to you in anyway. You would need 50 R before you feel even the slightest bit sick and that is within a short amount of time, and you need 500 R to die from it. You're body is constantly healing and repairing from the minor radiation and we have evolved enough to more than withstand it. Stop worrying or saying you're going out to buy detectors. This is put out by the liberal media to scare you. I work with radiation every day and am not affected. There are people who have done this for 20+ years and they are fine and so are their children.
Source, me, trained and certed level 2 technician and film interpreter.
Tyler on April 05, 2011:
Surprised to see no mention of cell phones
Leah on April 17, 2010:
chill out people. We have adapted to this moderate amount of radiation in our environment.
MikeNV from Henderson, NV on December 03, 2009:
Use a Cell Phone... yikes we live in a toxic world!
John on November 17, 2009:
New Televsion have far less radiation than older ones.
yenseca from Canada on March 19, 2008:
Makes me wnt to stay in a dark room with nothing in it in hopes to live a lot longer...in a dark room with nothing in it? Ok i'll go for a walk once in a while haha! But only at night.
Very informative and interesting, I didn't realize our tissue was so affected by everyday devices.
Whitney (author) from Georgia on March 16, 2008:
I got the quiz from an EPA type website. I forget which one, but it's from an official website.
We used to have on. They work, I guess. Ours never went off.
The Book Garden on March 15, 2008:
some pretty useful info there. Though are you sure the info about more radiation produced by a coal fired power station than a nuclear one is correct?
Think I'm gonna get me one of those emf sensors!!
Whitney (author) from Georgia on March 13, 2008:
john, I'm sure the newer plasma TV's put off a good deal of radiation when compared to the older televisions. This is an older quiz, so I'm not sure if there's an updated version, but I too would be interested.
johnngd from Sydney on March 13, 2008:
Radiation can cause mutations in your genes and you can pass it onto your children, i wonder how much raditation the new plasma and other new TV's cause?
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on March 13, 2008:
Wow, I must be positively glowing.... Thanks for the info.