How much radiation do you get from working at a nuclear power plant?

A functioning nuclear power plant produces very small quantities of radioactive gases and liquids, as well as small amounts of direct radiation. If you lived within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, you would receive an average radiation dose of approximately 0.01 millirem per year. The average radiation dose ranged from 0.35 mSv to 2.84 mSv, a fraction of the annual AERB dose limit of 30 mSv. The conclusions were similar in previous years.

At these doses, radiation risks, if any, are negligible. What are the health risks of exposure to ionizing radiation? Much of this work is done in areas where there is radiation, said Steve Dobbins, technical training instructor at Duke Energy's McGuire nuclear station. External exposure comes from walking on contaminated soil or coming into contact with contaminated materials at nuclear accident sites. All workers were exposed to low doses of radiation as part of their work in the production of nuclear energy, the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the processing of nuclear fuel, or the research of nuclear reactors or weapons.

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. Researchers reported that the analysis of the remaining Canadian nuclear workers (93.2 percent) provided no evidence of increased risk, and the risk estimate was consistent with the estimates that form the basis of radiation protection standards. A 63-year-old asked this writer if the malignancy of the throat, which his 33-year-old daughter suffered, was probably due to possible radiation exposure he might have received while working at a nuclear power plant when he was 28 years old. These records can be important after not only an accident at a nuclear power plant, but also after other large-scale events that can interrupt medical services, when medical records may be lost.

Additional information on radiation exposure can be found elsewhere in the Nuclear Information Center. But researchers say extrapolating estimates of radiation-related cancer risk for workers in the nuclear industry and the general public is controversial. Based on those estimates, researchers say that about 1 to 2% of all deaths among workers in the nuclear industry can be attributed to radiation exposure. Extensive epidemiological studies of nuclear power plant workers have shown that working in a nuclear power plant is not a risky occupation.

In nuclear power plants, fuel rods and specially designed containment structures enclose radioactive materials to prevent radioactive materials, and the ionizing radiation they produce, from polluting the environment. In the nuclear industry, keeping radiation as low as possible (ALARA) has become a basic principle of plant operations.