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Radiation Exposure: Risks and Health Effects

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Topic Overview


How do different sources of radiation compare? continued...

You may be exposed to more radiation than other people if you:

  • Live at high altitude.
  • Have certain medical tests (such as X-rays or CT scans) or treatments (such as radiation treatment for cancer).
  • Are exposed to radon gas in your home.

To understand more about radiation exposure, you may find it helpful to compare some common sources of radiation to a standard dose from a chest X-ray. A chest X-ray gives off very small amounts of radiation.

For example:

  • You would need to go through a full-body airport scanner about 1,000 times to get the same amount of radiation that you would get from 1 chest X-ray.
  • A 10-hour plane flight is about the same exposure as 1 chest X-ray.
  • One mammogram test is about the same as 5 chest X-rays.
  • Living at high altitude (such as in Denver) for a year is about the same as having 5 chest X-rays.
  • One CT scan is about the same as 200 chest X-rays.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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