By the Way. Limiting the Harmful Impact of Radiation

Daily Mail (London), March 29, 2011 | Go to article overview

By the Way. Limiting the Harmful Impact of Radiation


WE HAVE all become more interested in radiation following the disaster in Fukushima.

Radiation is measured in units called miliseverts (mSv) and we probably get exposed to about 2.4mSv of radiation each year.

Expose yourself to one Sivert (1000mSV) of radiation in a single go and it will make you ill. Expose yourself to numerous Siverts and it could kill you. Despite the fact that Ireland has no nuclear power plants and we are 10,000km away from Japan we too are exposed to a safe level of radiation on a daily basis.

This 'natural' radiation comes from two sources: cosmic radiation and environmental. The global dose of radiation increased by 20 per cent in the 20th century and around 15 per cent is due to medical radiation alone.

The last 30 years has seen a 20 fold increase in the number of CT scans carried out in American hospitals. You only have to watch ER or Grey's Anatomy to see it's hard to enter a Stateside emergency room without undergoing one. Closer to home, the use of CTs in Britain has doubled in the last decade.

A CT of your chest is the equivalent of a staggering 350 chest X-rays in terms of radiation.

This equivalent to almost three years of natural exposure. A mammogram delivers the equivalent radiation dose of 20 chest X-rays, while a brain scan comes with the price of 100.

Elect for a barium enema and you are treating yourself to the equivalent of 400 chest X-rays. …

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