How much radiation is too much? What is dose?

DOE Order 458.1 establishes requirements to protect the public and the environment against undue risk from radiation associated with radiological activities conducted by LANL. That limit is 10 millirem per year. By comparison, an airplane flight at 36,000 feet yields a rate of about 0.2 to 0.8 millirem per hour. Chest x-rays range from 4 to 15 millirem, and a bone scan is about 440 millirem.

Every year LANL calculates the potential emission dose historical and current operations may contribute to the public. Dose is an estimate of the level of risk from exposure to radiation.

LANL reports the data on air emissions and public exposure through the Intellus database.

Radiation Dose

  • Amount of energy per gram of living tissue a person receives from a radioactive source
  • Measured in millirem (mrem)

The primary risk of radiation dose is cancer. For low doses of radiation, the risk of cancer is estimated to be 8 additional cases per 10,000,000 people per millirem received.

Chemicals Dose

  • A measure of the amount of a chemical per gram of living tissue

Dose sources
Dose sources

(1) Source – the point of origin for contamination

(2) Media or Medium – the means of transportation for contamination

(3) Exposure Point – the location of potential contact between a person/animal and contamination

(4) Exposure Route or Pathway – the means by which the contamination enters the body

(5) Receptor – the exposed individual, plant or animal



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