On average, nuclear power workers receive a lower annual radiation dose than flight crew and frequent flyers who fly for 250 hours, receiving 1 mSv. It is important to note that exposure to radiation does not make a person radioactive, except in very specific circumstances. In a study, 407,391 nuclear industry workers from 15 countries were monitored, including the U. S.
External exposure comes from walking on contaminated soil or coming into contact with contaminated materials at nuclear accident sites. Nuclear power plants have radiation protective equipment (PR) that works daily to control and reduce the amount of occupational radiation exposure workers receive while performing various jobs at the plant. Modern nuclear reactors are designed to prevent radiation leakage and alarm systems are designed to signal each time a leak occurs. A person who spends a full year on the edge of a nuclear power plant would receive additional radiation exposure of less than 1 percent of the radiation everyone receives from natural background sources.
As an additional safety measure, all workers wear dosimeters to monitor their individual exposure levels. Cancer patients receiving treatment with systemic chemotherapy or radiation therapy should be evacuated from the area where an accident occurred at a nuclear power plant so that their medical treatment can continue without interruption. In the past decade, research on cancer prevalence among nuclear plant workers concluded a higher incidence of cancer compared to the general population. Nuclear workers participate in accredited training programs that include training in specific tasks and segments on employee health and safety, radiation protection, and nuclear safety.
Based on estimates, researchers say that about 1 to 2% of all deaths among workers in the nuclear industry can be attributed to radiation exposure. People who are constantly exposed to low doses of radiation, such as those working in nuclear plants, have an approximately 10% higher risk of death from all types of cancer, except leukemia. It is estimated that if you lived 24 hours a day outside the door of a nuclear power plant for a year, you would receive less than an additional mrem of radiation. In addition, researchers claim that in this study, less than 5% of workers in the nuclear industry received the maximum cumulative radiation dose of 100 millisieverts throughout their careers, and most of those doses were received in the early days of the nuclear industry when radiation protection standards were not as rigorous. The radioactive material that powers a nuclear power plant is contained in ceramic fuel pellets that are capable of withstanding thousands of degrees of heat.