Orders of magnitude (radiation)

Recognized effects of higher acute radiation doses are described in more detail in the article on radiation poisoning. Although the International System of Units (SI) defines the sievert (Sv) as the unit of radiation dose equivalent, chronic radiation levels and standards are still often given in units of millirems (mrem), where 1 mrem equals 1/1000 of a rem and 1 rem equals 0.01 Sv. Light radiation sickness begins at about 50100 rad (0.51 gray (Gy), 0.51 Sv, 50100 rem, 50,000100,000 mrem).

The following table includes some dosages for comparison purposes, using millisieverts (mSv) (one thousandth of a sievert). The concept of radiation hormesis is relevant to this table – radiation hormesis is a hypothesis stating that the effects of a given acute dose may differ from the effects of an equal fractionated dose. Thus 100 mSv is considered twice in the table below – once as received over a 5-year period, and once as an acute dose, received over a short period of time, with differing predicted effects. The table describes doses and their official limits, rather than effects.

Level (mSv) Level in standard form (mSv)DurationHourly equivalent (μSv/hour)Description
0.001 1×10^−3Hourly 1Cosmic ray dose rate on commercial flights varies from 1 to 10 μSv/hour, depending on altitude, position and solar sunspot phase.[1]
0.01 1×10^−2Daily 0.4Natural background radiation, including radon[2]
0.06 6×10^−2Acute-Chest X-ray (AP+Lat)[3]
0.07 7×10^−2Acute-Transatlantic airplane flight.
0.09 9×10^−2Acute-Dental X-ray (Panoramic)[3]
0.1 1×10^−1Annual 0.011Average USA dose from consumer products[4]
0.15 1.5×10^−1 Annual 0.017USA EPA cleanup standard
0.25 2.5×10^−1Annual 0.028USA NRC cleanup standard for individual sites/sources
0.27 2.7×10^−1Annual 0.031Yearly dose from natural cosmic radiation at sea level (0.5 in Denver due to altitude)[4]
0.28 2.8×10^−1Annual 0.032USA yearly dose from natural terrestrial radiation (0.16-0.63 depending on soil composition)[4]
0.46 4.6×10^−1Acute-Estimated largest off-site dose possible from March 28, 1979 Three Mile Island accident
0.48 4.8×10^−1Day 20USA NRC public area exposure limit
0.66 6.6×10^−1Annual 0.075Average USA dose from human-made sources[2]
0.7 7×10^−1Acute-Mammogram[3]
1 1×10^0Annual 0.11Limit of dose from man-made sources to a member of the public who is not a radiation worker in the USA and Canada[2][5]
1.1 1.1×10^0Annual 0.131980 average USA radiation worker occupational dose[2]
1.2 1.2×10^0Acute-Abdominal X-ray[3]
2 2×10^0Annual 0.23USA average medical and natural background
Human internal radiation due to radon, varies with radon levels[4]
2 2×10^0Acute-Head CT[3]
3 3×10^0Annual 0.34USA average dose from all natural sources[2]
3.66 3.66×10^0Annual 0.42USA average from all sources, including medical diagnostic radiation doses
4 4×10^0Duration of the pregnancy 0.6Canada CNSC maximum occupational dose to a pregnant woman who is a designated Nuclear Energy Worker.[5]
5 5×10^0Annual 0.57USA NRC occupational limit for minors (10% of adult limit)
USA NRC limit for visitors[6]
5 5×10^0Pregnancy 0.77USA NRC occupational limit for pregnant women
6.4 6.4×10^0Annual 0.73High Background Radiation Area (HBRA) of Yangjiang, China[7]
7.6 7.6×10^0Annual 0.87Fountainhead Rock Place, Santa Fe, NM natural
8 8×10^0Acute-Chest CT[3]
10 1×10^1Acute-Lower dose level for public calculated from the 1 to 5 rem range for which USA EPA guidelines mandate emergency action when resulting from a nuclear accident[2]
Abdominal CT[3]
14 1.4×10^1 Acute - 18F FDG PET scan,[8] Whole Body
50 5×10^1Annual 5.7USA NRC/ Canada CNSC occupational limit for designated Nuclear Energy Workers[5](10 CFR 20)
100 1×10^25 years 2.3Canada CNSC occupational limit over a 5-year dosimetry period for designated Nuclear Energy Workers[5]
100 1×10^2Acute-USA EPA acute dose level estimated to increase cancer risk 0.8%[2]
120 1.2×10^230 years 0.46Exposure, long duration, Ural mountains, lower limit, lower cancer mortality rate[9]
150 1.5×10^2Annual 17USA NRC occupational eye lens exposure limit
170 1.7×10^2AcuteAverage dose for 187 000 Chernobyl recovery operation workers in 1986[10][11]
175 1.75×10^2Annual 20Guarapari, Brazil natural radiation sources
250 2.5×10^22 hours 125 000(125 mSv/hour) Whole body dose exclusion zone criteria for US nuclear reactor siting[12] (converted from 25 rem)
250 2.5×10^2Acute-USA EPA voluntary maximum dose for emergency non-life-saving work[2]
260 2.6×10^2Annual 30Calculated from 260 mGy per year peak natural background dose in Ramsar[13]
400-900 4–9×10^2Annual 46-103Unshielded in interplanetary space.[14]
500 5×10^2Annual 57USA NRC occupational whole skin, limb skin, or single organ exposure limit
500 5×10^2Acute-Canada CNSC occupational limit for designated Nuclear Energy Workers carrying out urgent and necessary work during an emergency.[5]
Low-level radiation sickness due to short-term exposure[15]
750 7.5×10^2Acute-USA EPA voluntary maximum dose for emergency life-saving work[2]
1000 10×10^2Hourly 1 000 000Level reported during Fukushima I nuclear accidents, in immediate vicinity of reactor[16]
3000 3×10^3Acute-Thyroid dose (due to iodine absorption) exclusion zone criteria for US nuclear reactor siting[12] (converted from 300 rem)
4800 4.8×10^3Acute-LD50 (actually LD50/60) in humans from radiation poisoning with medical treatment estimated from 480 to 540 rem.[17]
5000 5×10^3Acute-Calculated from the estimated 510 rem dose fatally received by Harry Daghlian on 1945 August 21 at Los Alamos and lower estimate for fatality of Russian specialist on 1968 April 5 at Chelyabinsk-70.[18]
5000 5×10^35 000 - 10 000 mSv. Most commercial electronics can survive this radiation level.[19]
16 000 1.6×10^4AcuteHighest estimated dose to Chernobyl emergency worker diagnosed with acute radiation syndrome[11]
20 000 2×10^4Acute 2 114 536Interplanetary exposure to solar particle event (SPE) of October 1989.[20][21]
21 000 2.1×10^4Acute-Calculated from the estimated 2100 rem dose fatally received by Louis Slotin on 1946 May 21 at Los Alamos and lower estimate for fatality of Russian specialist on 1968 April 5 Chelyabinsk-70.[18]
48 500 4.85×10^4Acute-Roughly calculated from the estimated 4500 + 350 rad dose for fatality of Russian experimenter on 1997 June 17 at Sarov.[18]
60 000 6×10^4Acute-Roughly calculated from the estimated 6000 rem doses for several Russian fatalities from 1958 onwards, such as on 1971 May 26 at the Kurchatov Institute. Lower estimate for a Los Alamos fatality in 1958 December 30.[18]
100 000 1×10^5Acute-Roughly calculated from the estimated 10000 rad dose for fatality at the United Nuclear Fuels Recovery Plant on 1964 July 24.[18]
10 000 000 000 1×10^10The most radiation-hardened electronics can survive this radiation level.[22]
70 000 000 000 7×10^10Hourly 70 000 000 000 000Estimated dose rate for the inner wall in ITER (2 kGy/s with an approximate weighting factor of 10)[23]
Comparison of Radiation Doses - includes the amount detected on the trip from Earth to Mars by the RAD on the MSL (2011 - 2013).[24][25][26][27]

See also


  1. "Annex B: Exposures from natural radiation sources" (PDF). UNSCEAR 2000 Report: Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation. 1 Sources. p. 88, Figure 3.
  2. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (http://www.ornl.gov/sci/env_rpt/aser95/tb-a-2.pdf)
  3. Health Physics Society (http://www.hps.org/documents/meddiagimaging.pdf)
  4. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (http://www.ornl.gov/sci/env_rpt/aser95/appa.htm Archived 2004-06-23 at the Wayback Machine)
  5. Radiation Protection Regulations, Canada
  6. "Annex B: Exposures from natural radiation sources" (PDF). UNSCEAR 2000 Report: Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation. 1 Sources. Orvieto town, Italy
  7. Tao Z, Cha Y, Sun Q (July 1999). "[Cancer mortality in high background radiation area of Yangjiang, China, 1979–1995]". Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi (in Chinese). 79 (7): 487–92. PMID 11715418.
  8. "Radiation Exposure from Medical Exams and Procedures" (PDF). Health Physics Society. Retrieved 2015-04-19.
  9. UNSCEAR 2000 Report, Annex J, Exposures and effects of the Chernobyl Accident (PDF). United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. 2000. p. 526.
  10. "Chernobyl: Assessment of Radiological and Health Impact. Chapter IV Dose estimates". OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. 2002.
  11. 10 CFR Part 100.11 Section 1
  12. Dissanayake C (May 2005). "Of Stones and Health: Medical Geology in Sri Lanka". Science. 309 (5736): 883–5. doi:10.1126/science.1115174. PMID 16081722. high as 260 mGy/year
  13. R.A. Mewaldt; et al. (2005-08-03). "The Cosmic Ray Radiation Dose in Interplanetary Space – Present Day and Worst-Case Evaluations" (PDF). 29th International Cosmic Ray Conference Pune (2005) 00, 101-104. p. 103. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/ars.asp)
  15. "Japan's Chernobyl". Spiegel. 2011-03-14. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  16. Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation
  17. "A Review of Criticality Accidents" (PDF). Los Alamos National Laboratory. May 2000. pp. 16, 33, 74, 75, 87, 88, 89. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  18. ieee.org - Radiation Hardening 101: How To Protect Nuclear Reactor Electronics
  19. Lisa C. Simonsen & John E. Nealy (February 1993). "Mars Surface Radiation Exposure for Solar Maximum Conditions and 1989 Solar Proton Events" (PDF) (published 2005-06-10). p. 9. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  20. Torsti, J.; Anttila, A.; Vainio, R. l Kocharov (1995-08-28). "Successive Solar Energetic Particle Events in the October 1989". International Cosmic Ray Conference (published 2016-02-17). 4: 140. Bibcode:1995ICRC....4..139T.
  21. "RD53 investigation of CMOS radiation hardness up to 1Grad" (PDF). Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  22. Henri Weisen: ITER Diagnostics, page 13. Accessed August 28, 2017
  23. Kerr, Richard (31 May 2013). "Radiation Will Make Astronauts' Trip to Mars Even Riskier". Science. 340 (6136): 1031. doi:10.1126/science.340.6136.1031. PMID 23723213. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  24. Zeitlin, C. et al. (31 May 2013). "Measurements of Energetic Particle Radiation in Transit to Mars on the Mars Science Laboratory". Science. 340 (6136): 1080–1084. Bibcode:2013Sci...340.1080Z. doi:10.1126/science.1235989. PMID 23723233. Retrieved 31 May 2013.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  25. Chang, Kenneth (30 May 2013). "Data Point to Radiation Risk for Travelers to Mars". New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  26. Gelling, Cristy (June 29, 2013). "Mars trip would deliver big radiation dose; Curiosity instrument confirms expectation of major exposures". Science News. 183 (13): 8. doi:10.1002/scin.5591831304. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
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