Radiation Chart

There’s a lot of discussion of radiation from the Fukushima plants, along with comparisons to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Radiation levels are often described as “<X> times the normal level” or “<Y>% over the legal limit,” which can be pretty confusing.

Ellen, a friend of mine who’s a student at Reed and Senior Reactor Operator at the Reed Research Reactor, has been spending the last few days answering questions about radiation dosage virtually nonstop (I’ve actually seen her interrupt them with “brb, reactor”). She suggested a chart might help put different amounts of radiation into perspective, and so with her help, I put one together. She also made one of her own; it has fewer colors, but contains more information about what radiation exposure consists of and how it affects the body.

I’m not an expert in radiation and I’m sure I’ve got a lot of mistakes in here, but there’s so much wild misinformation out there that I figured a broad comparison of different types of dosages might be good anyway. I don’t include too much about the Fukushima reactor because the situation seems to be changing by the hour, but I hope the chart provides some helpful context.

(Click to view full)

Note that there are different types of ionizing radiation; the “sievert” unit quantifies the degree to which each type (gamma rays, alpha particles, etc) affects the body. You can learn more from my sources list. If you’re looking for expert updates on the nuclear situation, try the MIT NSE Hub. Ellen’s page on radiation is here.

Lastly, remember that while there’s a lot of focus on possible worst-case scenarios involving the nuclear plants, the tsunami was an actual disaster that’s already killed thousands. Hundreds of thousands more, including my best friend from college, are in shelters with limited access to basic supplies and almost no ability to contact the outside world. If you’re not sure how to help, Google’s Japan Crisis Resource page is a good place to start.

Edit: For people who asked about Japanese translations or other types of reprinting: you may republish this image anywhere without any sort of restriction; I place it in the public domain. I just suggest that you make sure to include a clear translation of the disclaimer that the author is not an expert, and that anyone potentially affected by Fukushima should always defer to the directives of regional health authorities.

809 thoughts on “Radiation Chart

  1. Pingback: banana for scale | Ştefan's rant

  2. Your blog is very good. It is a pleasure to be having to read this blog. If I ever were to chose a random article, and I got this one, it would be an honor for me.

    Like

  3. I almost never leave a response, but i did a few
    searching and wound up here Radiation Chart | xkcd.
    And I actually do have some questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be only me or does it give the impression like a few of these comments come across as
    if they are written by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are
    posting at additional sites, I would like to follow everything fresh
    you have to post. Could you list of every one of all your social pages like
    your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

    Like

  4. Your blog is very good. It is a pleasure to be having to read this blog. If I ever were to chose a random article, and I got this one, it would be an honor for me.

    Like

  5. I work in a bakery, on my feet all day and I was so worried that my varicosities would get worse, but the supporter have kept that from happening and relieved the discomfort I was already having. No mess – I love that! Our old laundry detergents have always dripped or gotten powder all around the place. Well it worked great! I also found Apple Pie and Peanut Butter cookie to be great tasting without a ton of ingredients. It just gets frustrating when trying to get get it in there and it wont push up. It’s probably worth mentioning, I’d recommended these to a friend that hadn’t tried Goji berries before, he ate them raw, said he hated them. Any one with arthritis in their hands needs this puller ,if they have to wear compression stockings. I have used other flavors of Assault. This completely natural fish oil supplement won’t upset your stomach or give you those super-nasty fish burps after taking them. A hairstylist told me years ago to take Biotin 5000 daily to help make my hair healthier and fuller.

    Like

  6. Encourage a different way of considering the problem. I informally provided two xkcd t-shirts as prizes for whoever provided the first appropriate reaction and the most. Drivers

    Like

  7. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say excellent blog!

    Like

  8. Pingback: You Can't Touch Anything |

  9. ” Be creative when coming up with categories and award prizes for the winner of each category and an overall prize for the designer whose outfit receives the most votes. Beards were a little uncommon in most of the gothic period. I have very sensitive eyes and that is often a concern.

    Like

  10. Just make sure you use an accurate square for all of this. This is the best machine I have had. Purchased for my MP600 printer. Brink is an awsome movie and still to this day is fun to watch. It had been in the volleyball court in my office for nearly 24 hours. I’ve had several of these style items. The ONLY not so perfect feature is the end of the table is not exactly level but it’s not been a huge issue. The high speed fan is a bit noisy, but the low speed works very well and I imagine that is what would be used most of the time. I ordered several of these and have owned several Bosch Evolutions but both of these have huge lines in the middle. I love it so much that i will make a special trip to go look at it all most every day, looking at it makes me happy, it’s so neat and clean.

    Like

  11. There are oilfield lease professionals that lease a lot of devices that aren’t aspect of the stocks of most of the devices lease organizations that visitors of this journal are engaged with. Ottawa’s home reconstruction

    Like

  12. These eyelash stimulator sera as well as a similar active substance Latisse that will make your eyelashes grow.
    It can be classified in to various categories with
    each having a specific use. Try out their product and
    you will never use anything else ever again.

    Like

  13. It shows me of Feynman’s viewpoint on resigning the National Universities of Sciences — he said that he saw no aspect in that are aspect of an organization that spent most of it’s great time identifying who to let in. http://cheapestflights.to/hawaii/

    Like

  14. Eexcellent! One of the best articles I have every read. This is the information which I have been searching.

    Like

  15. Pingback: What is an mrem? | Nuclear Layperson

Comments are closed.