What is a Sievert, and why are they used to measure radiation exposure?
Although we're exposed to ionizing radiation all the time, high levels can cause illness, disease, and even death. Yet working out how much radiation leads to specific health outcomes is complicated by the fact that different types and sources of radiation vary in their ability to cause damage, and where in the body exposure occurs makes a difference.
To get around this, the Sievert was developed as a measure of biologically relevant dose - a measure of how much harm ionizing radiation might cause. It combines the amount and energy of the radiation, with the type of radiation, and the body tissues exposed, to come up with a way of estimating risk, and carrying out risk assessments.
For more on how much radiation (in Sieverts) you might expect to be exposed to from different sources, check out this excellent graphic from XKCD: https://xkcd.com/radiation/
Risk Bites is supported by the ASU Risk Innovation Lab and School for the Future of Innovation in Society
Produced in collaboration with Science Showcase.
#radiation #risk #safety #sievert
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