This is the tool to estimate your annual average radiation dose.
Please complete the form below.
On average, a person living in Ireland receives a dose of 4037 microsieverts (μSv) per year from all sources of radiation. The results of your calculation can vary quite widely from the average calculated for the population as a whole.
Described below is an explanation of each of the components of your radiation dose. You may wish to put your dose into perspective by looking at the health risk associated with various radiation doses. We have published a comprehensive report on the Radiation Doses Received by the Irish Population.
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the ground and when it enters a building it can build up to unacceptable levels. For most people, radon is the major contributor to their total dose. Approximately 50% of the average radiation dose (1995 μSv) is due to exposure to radon in the home. However, for the individual, exposure to radon is extremely variable ranging from a fraction of, to hundreds of times, the average radition dose.
This source of radiation exposure, among all others, is probably the easiest to reduce. We strongly recommend that you measure the level of radon in your home and reduce it if it is above the acceptable level.
Radon can build up to unacceptable levels in the workplace as it does in the home. On average, each person receives a dose of 226 μSv (about 6% of average dose) from exposure radon in work.
On average, a person living at sea level receives 302 μSv from cosmic radiation – high-energy radiation from outer space reaching the Earth’s surface. The dose varies with latitude and altitude but the variability across Ireland in extremely small. Air crew and airline passengers receive an additional dose from cosmic radiation. The dose received depends on the frequency of flights and the routes flown.
If you work with radiation in the medical, industrial or education/research fields, on average you receive a dose of 20 μSv per year. Air crew who fly above 8000 m receive an average dose each year of 2000 μSv. The actual dose received can be calculated and is included in the ‘cosmic radiation’ component of the chart. If you work with radiation or are air crew, your employer is required by law to keep a record of your dose.
Many procedures carried out routinely in medical diagnosis involve exposure to radiation. On average, a person receives 546 μSv per year from medical procedures. This average value does not include doses from medical treatment such as radiotherapy, which can often be several hundred times higher.
Some people receive no dose from medical procedures while others receive much higher doses. The total dose received depends on the number and type of procedures. Some well-known procedures and the typical doses received are: dental X-ray (10 μSv); chest X-ray (20 μSv); mammography to identify breast cancer (500 μSv); CT scan (5400 μSv); angiocardiogram to determine heart function (6000 μSv).
All medical exposures to radiation must be clinically justified and should only be carried out if recommended by a GP or medical consultant.
On average, a person receives 350 μSv per year from exposure to thoron. Thoron, like radon, is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. Unlike radon, its principal source is building materials.
Radioactive elements occur naturally in all rocks and soils and have been there since the creation of the Earth. On average, a person receives 295 μSv every year from the radiation emitted from this source.
The natural radionuclides that are present in the soil are transferred to crops and grazing animals, thereby resulting in a radiation dose when these are eaten. Similarly, natural radionuclides are present in the sea and these are transferred to fish and shellfish. On average, a person receives 262 μSv every year from natural radioactivity in food.
On average, a person receives 11 μSv every year from artificial radioactivity in the Irish environment. We receive approximately 6 μSv from artificial radioactivity in soils and a further 5 μSv from artificial radioactivity in food. The origin of this radioactivity is nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s, the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and discharges from the Sellafield reprocessing plant in the UK.