Public Exposure from Man-made Radiation Sources

There are two distinct groups exposed to man-made radiation sources. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) itemized types of human exposures as:

  • public exposure, which is the exposure of individual members of the public and of the population in general
  • occupational radiation exposure, which is the exposure of workers in situations where their exposure is directly related to or required by their work

Natural and Artificial Radiation Sources

Public Exposure from Man-made Radiation Sources

In general, the following man-made sources expose the public to radiation:

  • Medical Exposures (by far, the most significant man-made source)
    • Diagnostic x-rays
    • Nuclear medicine procedures (iodine-131, cesium-137, technetium-99m etc.)
  • Consumer Products
    • Building and road construction materials
    • Smoking cigarettes (polonium-210)
    • Combustible fuels, including gas and coal
    • X-ray security systems
    • Televisions
    • Smoke detectors (americium)
    • Lantern mantles (thorium)

To a lesser degree, the public is also exposed to radiation from the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining and milling to disposal of used (spent) fuel. Noteworthy, the public is also exposed to radiation from so called “enhanced sources of naturally occurring radioactive material”. This means also industries such as metal mining, coal mining and power production from coal creates additional exposures due to densification of naturally occurring radionuclides. The public receives some minimal exposure from the transportation of radioactive materials and fallout from nuclear weapons testing and reactor accidents (such as Chernobyl).

For that reason, most regulatory bodies require to limit the maximum radiation exposure to individual members of the public to 100 mrem (1 mSv) per year.

References:

Radiation Protection:

  1. Knoll, Glenn F., Radiation Detection and Measurement 4th Edition, Wiley, 8/2010. ISBN-13: 978-0470131480.
  2. Stabin, Michael G., Radiation Protection and Dosimetry: An Introduction to Health Physics, Springer, 10/2010. ISBN-13: 978-1441923912.
  3. Martin, James E., Physics for Radiation Protection 3rd Edition, Wiley-VCH, 4/2013. ISBN-13: 978-3527411764.
  4. U.S.NRC, NUCLEAR REACTOR CONCEPTS
  5. U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Physics and Reactor Theory. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1 and 2. January 1993.

Nuclear and Reactor Physics:

  1. J. R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1983).
  2. J. R. Lamarsh, A. J. Baratta, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, 3d ed., Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN: 0-201-82498-1.
  3. W. M. Stacey, Nuclear Reactor Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2001, ISBN: 0- 471-39127-1.
  4. Glasstone, Sesonske. Nuclear Reactor Engineering: Reactor Systems Engineering, Springer; 4th edition, 1994, ISBN: 978-0412985317
  5. W.S.C. Williams. Nuclear and Particle Physics. Clarendon Press; 1 edition, 1991, ISBN: 978-0198520467
  6. G.R.Keepin. Physics of Nuclear Kinetics. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co; 1st edition, 1965
  7. Robert Reed Burn, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Operation, 1988.
  8. U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Physics and Reactor Theory. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1 and 2. January 1993.
  9. Paul Reuss, Neutron Physics. EDP Sciences, 2008. ISBN: 978-2759800414.

See above:

Man-made Sources