Uranium 101

Source: World Nuclear Association

What is radiation: Radiation is a natural part of our environment in which humankind and other species have evolved and thrived.  In fact, the sun, the earth and all living things emit radiation.  Radiation comes from unstable atoms.  As these unstable atoms change to become more stable, they give off radiation in the form of invisible energy waves.  There is no difference between natural and man-made radiation.

Level of radiation from Earth: Radiation from the earth’s crust ranges from 23 millirem at the Atlantic Coast to 90 millirem on the Colorado Plateau.

Level of radiation from our environment: Radiation inside the body is about 40 millirem from food and water and 200 millirem from air in the form of radon.  Radiation from outerspace ranges from 26 millirem at sea level to 53 millirem at 7,000-8,000 feet.

Level of radiation from electronics: Radiation from airline flights is about 1 millirem per 1,000 miles flown and radiation from a medical x-ray is 40 millirem.  You will receive 7 millirem from living in a stone, brick, or concrete building; .1 millirem from a computer terminal; .06 millirem from a luminous wrist watch; and .03 millirem from living within 50 miles of a coal-fired power plant (Sources: National Council on Radiation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Level of radiation from a nuclear power plant: About 82 percent of our total exposure to radiation comes from natural sources: radon gas; the human body itself, which contains radioactive elements; outer space; and rocks and soil.  A person living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant will receive .009 millirem of radiation.  To put this in perspective, you would have to live near a nuclear power plant for over 2,000 years to get the same amount of radiation exposure you get from a single diagnostic medical x-ray. 

Source: www.westinghousenuclear.com/community/radiation.shtm

Additional Resources

The Canadian Nuclear Factbook 2013 by the Canadian Nuclear Association, slightly out of date but still very relevant: 

Nuclear Energy: Just the Facts E-book by the Nuclear Energy Institute:

The Changing Landscape in Nuclear Power

Uranium: The Metal of Tomorrow

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist