Calculate your Personal Annual Radiation Dose
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Summary of Activity:

This is a worksheet participants can use to add up the radiation dose sources (background and medical) in their personal life to calculate their annual radiation dose.

Estimated Prep Time:
Estimated Activity Time:
Estimated Total Hours:
  • Nuclear 101
  • Nuclear Power
  • Radiation Protection & Health Physics
Target Audience:
  • General Public
  • Primary School Students
  • Professionals or Adults
  • Secondary School Students
  • University Students
Submission Type:
Ready-To-Go Event
Activity Type:
Activity or Demonstration
Detailed Description and Instructions:

This is worksheet that steps participants through most of the common sources of background radiation so that they can add up the radiation doses they have received from background and medical in their personal life to calculate their annual radiation dose.

I like to incorporate this worksheet into my presentations because it is an easy way to help keep your audience engaged, and it also is a great tool to help people understand that radiation is a part of everyday life. Therefore, I recommend placing it at the middle of your presentation to wake everyone up! I also recommend pointing out the difference in dose from living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant (which is equivalent to eating one extra banana a year) to the dose from living within 50 miles of a coal fired power plant, and explaining that the dose from the coal plant exists because naturally radioactive minerals in the coal are concentrated as it is burned, and then escape into the environment as coal ash (while nuclear fuel is contained and safely stored onsite).

There are two ways to perform this activity. It can be done on a computer by each individual (available on the NRC, EPA, or ANS websites) or you can print out hardcopies of the worksheet from the ANS website. I recommend hard copies so that participants can take the worksheet, and the lessons it contains, home with them. To do that, you will need to make enough copies of the worksheet and provide enough pens or pencils for each participant. If you use the computer form, you will either need one computer and a projector to do it as a group, or a computer for every participant. If you perform it individually (either on computers or with the print out worksheet) I recommend giving participants a few minutes to work through it on their own before you walk everyone through it as a group and answer any questions.

I recommend 5 minutes of prep work to make enough copies for each participant, and to look up the elevation and location of the site your event is occurring at in advance. This will allow you to provide that information to the group for calculating Cosmic and Terrestrial radiation background dose.

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