Radiation Facts

Even if you lived next door to a nuclear power plant, you'd still get less radiation each year than you'd get in just one flight from New York to Los Angeles.

About 85 percent of the radiation humans receive comes from natural sources such as cosmic rays from space, granite and even our food. The remainder of our annual radiation dose comes from artificial sources such as medical x-rays. Less than 0.1 percent comes from the nuclear industry.

Worldwide there are 440 operating nuclear plants. In 14 countries, 59 new nuclear plants are under construction.

Nuclear power plants in the United States supply about 20 percent of the nation's electricity each year.

Nuclear energy is an emission-free energy source. Nuclear power plants produce no controlled air pollutants, such as sulfur and particulates, or greenhouse gases. The use of nuclear energy in place of other energy sources helps keep the air clean, avoid ground-level ozone formation and prevent acid rain.

Throughout the nuclear fuel cycle, the small volume of by-products actually created is carefully contained, packaged, and safely stored. As a result, the nuclear energy industry is the only industry established since the industrial revolution that has managed its used fuel without adverse impacts to the environment.

Water discharged from a nuclear power plant contains no harmful pollutants and meets regulatory standards for temperature designed to protect aquatic life.

More than 28,000 American doctors practice medical specialties that use radiation.

The use of radiation for medical diagnosis and treatment is so widespread that virtually every U.S. hospital has some form of a nuclear medicine unit.

Radiation is used to sterilize baby powder, bandages, contact lens solution, and many cosmetics, including false eyelashes and mascara.

Uranium is a relatively abundant element that occurs naturally in the earth's crust. Uranium oxide is more abundant than gold and silver, and as common as tin.