Via xkcd comes this very informative chart on radiation exposure:


click for ginormous graphic




Hat tip Flowing Data

Category: Energy, Science

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

22 Responses to “Radiation Dose Chart”

  1. DeDude says:

    Great chart. Problem is that few people have any clue about what levels of radiation really mean. We can detect very low and meaningless levels of radiation so when it is reported that levels in the air or food has doubled people get all bend out of shape. If you take a radiation meter outside at noon and point it at the sun you would be surprised at how much noise you get, yet nobody runs around with lead shields when they head out for lunch.

  2. barbacoa666 says:

    What the charts shows is that only the operators are picking up a significant radiation dose from this accident. That is, the risk to the public from the radiation dose inflicted by Fukushima will be dwarfed by the risks of living their everyday lives. And the risk to the operators from that radiation dose is dwarfed by the risk of working in this crippled facility (e.g., falling debris, explosions, falling from heights).

    Just like in the financial crisis, the world worries about the wrong risks. Fukushima will be terribly expensive to recover from, and the impact to the Japanese economy from the loss of electrical output appears marked. But the long term health risk from the radioactive material emitted will not be significant.

    Char notes:
    blue = microsieverts (μSv) 1,000,000 μSv = 1 Sv
    green = millisiverts (mSv) 1,000 mSv = 1 Sv
    red = sieverts (Sv)

  3. barbacoa666 says:


    Should be, “But the long term health risk to the public from the radioactive material emitted will not be significant.”

  4. louiswi says:

    Can we get real about radiation for a moment. example, best I can tell, all airline crewmembers should be dead by the time they are 50.

  5. Space_Cowboy_NW says:

    Re louiswi Says
    “best I can tell, all airline crewmembers should be dead by the time they are 50.”

    Nasa studies (unable to link as I’ve been away from the flying biz for a while) notice that
    most aircarrier pilots die @ 63….and should you fly (for a living) at night, about 10 yrs sooner.

    Also passed on was the inference to fly lower…not higher (as UV exposuer is 8x greater @ FL 41k than
    say @ 35/36k).

    Note; Has anyone ever seen a WHITE (ie non tanned) career airline (or airfreight) driver? Not I
    and airline drivers are not doing rotation at the tanning booth’s.

    Your mileage may vary……

    The Three most unimportant issues to a pilot is:
    1)altitude above you
    2)distance behind you
    3)fuel you’ve already burned

    Sure sounds like related concepts to investing, no?

  6. JimRino says:

    Where does Plutonium figure into the chart?

  7. louiswi says:

    Easy does it “space cowboy”,

    I’ve spent a lifetime in the air and never heard of the “nasa study”. Am currently 75 years old and in excellent health. I know dozens of fellow airmen well into their 80′s and doing fine. They aren’t dying early, I promise. I’m as white as a sheet and never got a tan flying but plenty of tan while spending time on my boat on days off.

    I know a few FedEx and UPS guys as well and they have spent lots of time night flying and are aging just fine as well. One fellow did tell me he has had problems with the circadian rythum thing. Seems he gets hungry when he goes to bed and sometimes has a raging boner when he sits down to dinner.

    Good advice about related concepts to investing..Yes..

  8. DL says:

    So does this mean that I should go long EWJ…?

  9. bobabouey says:

    louiswi said: “Seems he gets hungry when he goes to bed and sometimes has a raging boner when he sits down to dinner.”

    Isn’t that one of Warren Buffett’s core investing axioms?

  10. dak says:

    @ louiswi
    “best I can tell, all airline crewmembers should be dead by the time they are 50.”

    1 flight from New York to LA = 40 μSv
    75 flights from New York to LA = 3000 μSv = 3 mSv = 1 mammogram
    91 flights from New York to LA = 3640 μSv = 3.64 mSv = 1 year’s normal background radiation
    108 flights from New York to LA = 1 year’s normal background radiation on Colorado plain
    145 flights from New York to LA = 5800 μSv = 5.8 mSv = 1 chest CT scan

    The amount of exposure is negligible. How many flights would it take to produce a noticeable effect?

    12,000 flights from New York to LA = 480,000 μSv = 480 mSv = symptoms of radiation sickness,ONLY IF ALL EXPOSURE IN SHORT TIME

  11. Bob A says:

    I’m not gonna worry about it because
    Ann Coulter says radiation is good for you ;)

  12. Bob A says:

    …and how many of you are gonna buy milk and spinach from fukushima area if it shows up on the shelves of your local grocery store?

  13. Space_Cowboy_NW says:

    Re: louiswi Says:

    “Easy does it “space cowboy”,”

    Rarely lost anyone to a crash…damn folks keep expiring from self induced habits (poor eating, health
    maintance, too much stress & too many hookup’s). Was in Bizjet side of the operating spectrum

    “I’m as white as a sheet and never got a tan flying but plenty of tan while spending time on my boat on days off.”

    God Almighty, did not you learn the rules of life? If it floats, flys, or f__ks…it’s cheaper to rent!
    (passed on from a b-52 driver who said three tours in SE Asia were ‘piece of cake’ compared to the two divorces/warzones he went through in civilian life)

    Sounds like your acquaintance has no ‘spent fuel rods’ issue…..mine has been spent some time ago. Seems to be a bonus these days regarding the current (hint: Me, Me, I’m special like a snow flake…) dating pool. As though (American Women) real life expectations mirror reality tv…or is it the inverse?

    Btw OT humor for Sunday (unless one is on the ground in Libya and at a Tomahawk destination point)
    What is the difference between a woman who is a 10 and one who a 9.5?
    The 10 gives the h_mmer that the 9.5 won’t.

    Duly notated by my ‘Caveat’: Your mileage may (er, will?) vary…

    All The Best to You and Your Loved Ones…….

  14. NoKidding says:

    Thanks Barry.
    The chart says most of what needs to be said about this incident for a thinking man.

    The second, more tricky part of the analysis is pricing the risk of something worse next time.

    It looks like the health situation is probably going to be tiny this time, but its hard to ignore or deny that it could have been worse.

    The economics of it is a whole other issue.

  15. barbacoa666 says:

    WRT pilots and dose, there are two basic types of radiation exposure of concern: Short term exposure at very high dose rates, and long term low dose rate exposure. Damage from long term exposure within legal limits is believed to raise the risk a small amount (i.e., the risk is so low it can’t be measured). There are short term limits in place for special situations to save a life or equipment.

    The risk from long term exposure would be cancer. As I mentioned above, at current limits the risk cannot be measured. Pilots fall into the long term low dose rate category. If pilots were dropping dead from radiation exposure, other occupations that receive higher exposures would be in even worse shape. Indeed, living at high altitudes might yield higher exposures than pilots.

    Short term, very high doses may result in radiation sickness, and even death. These levels are spelled out in the red areas of the chart.

    This accident is nothing like Chernobyl, and I would not expect anywhere near those dose rates.

  16. jhunt88 says:

    reminds me of the chart you ran when everyone was flipping out over the AIG bonuses; it showed the million vs. billion vs. trillion argument.

    DeDude said it best; we can measure miniscule amounts of radiation, so fluctuations can ‘double’ or ‘triple’ quite easily. the problem is that it’s a logarithmic scale, and our wetware doesn’t come programmed for that.

  17. bman says:

    Microseverts Schmeverts. Let’s talk alpha, and beta and gamma and don’t forget MeV’s. The thinking man can think he’s thinking but when he glosses over those terms and does not realize what he’s being exposed to, He could be given a gift that keeps giving.

    Barry throw this chart away, it oversimplifies a very serious issue.

  18. LLouis says:

    More about the Japan nuclear disaster, I just found out that Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a professor at the Research Center for Urban Safety and Security of Kobe University, warned authorities of the flaws of the old and THE NEW design guidelines (2007) for the japanese nuclear plants.He is a great specialist in seismic research. He invented the word GENPATSU-SHINSAI, meaning a combination of an earthquake and a nuclear meltdown.

    A few excerpts from a 2007 article :

    ” In the 40 years that Japan had been building nuclear plants, seismic activity was, fortunately or unfortunately, relatively quiet. Not a single nuclear facility was struck by a big quake. The government, along with the power industry and the academic community, all developed the habit of underestimating the potential risks posed by major quakes. ”

    ” In the past two years, major quakes took place in close proximity of three nuclear power plants: the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture (August 2005), the Shika plant in Ishikawa Prefecture (March 2007) and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. In each case, the maximum ground motion caused by the quake was stronger than the seismic design criteria for the nuclear power plants. The latest temblor near Kashiwazaki generated a peak ground acceleration of 993 gal, compared with the design value of 450 gal. ”

    ” The period of high-level seismic activity will continue for another 40 years or more. Unless radical steps are taken now to reduce the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to earthquakes, Japan could experience a true nuclear catastrophe in the near future. ”

    ” But even the new guidelines that took effect last September in the first sweeping revision in 28 years are still seriously flawed because they underestimate design basis earthquake ground motion.

    This article appeared in the International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shinbun on August 11, 2007. Posted at Japan Focus on August 11, 2007.

    More nuke disasters to come from Japan anytime …

    And nothing has been said yet about marine biological contamination, Cesium has been shown to biomagnify in aquatic food chains, they could continue to spray water on the plant for months, and this water spills around the plant, in the sea mainly I guess …

  19. barbacoa666 says:

    The Sievert accounts for biological damage. In order to do this, it it takes into account the type of particle received.

  20. bman says:

    I doubt it. But if you’re certain of it, I suggest you hop on a plane and help pump seawater. Japan needs your help.

  21. konstantyn says:

    Visitors have been asking, what did the chart mean. Here is a link to a calculator for radioactivity exposure. It links the individual dose to cancer ETA in years (most likely at the age of) that is due to the exposure. Enjoy!