Radiation in everyday life - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Radiation in everyday life

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By Christie Post - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Ever since the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan started releasing radiation, people across the world are concerned about the effect that radiation could have. What people may not realize is that radiation is all around us, every day, and naturally occurs in our bodies.

"It can be everything from a chest x-ray to a cat scan to a trip to the mountains they all come in some radiation risk," said Dr. Joe Sasin, UMC emergency medicine.

Doctor Joe Sasin works in emergency medicine at University Medical Center. He said every year a person is exposed on average to three millisieverts, which is a measurement of radiation that the body absorbs. That amount is equivalent to about 30 chest x-rays and 300 round trip flights.

"It's a very small amount, insignificant. It does carry with it some degree of risk, but it's not something we would change our lifestyle to modulate," said Sasin.

Here in Lubbock radiation is everywhere. So what kind of radiation are we exposed to in everyday items? Sasin says cell phones gives off a small dosage.

"Radio waves are passing through us right now in huge amounts and that does not harm you," said Sasin.

And foods you eat, like a banana has .0007 millisieverts. Even radiation comes from cooking your food on the stove and in the microwave.

"It's going to be such an intensely small amount you wouldn't change anything about it anyway," said Sasin.

To give you another example a dental x-ray is .005 milisieverts. But it would take a lot more than that to make you sick, even if nuclear radiation from Japan reached the U.S.

"It takes six days for anything radioactive to reach across the currents and reach the shores. By then it has dissipated so there is not just negligible risk, there is zero risk for America," said Sasin.

Doctors said you would have to get more than 1,000 millisieverts of radiation exposure for it to be fatal, which is 333 times more than you would get in one year.

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