HAS THE WORLD GONE BANANAS?
Step Three: avoid antique china
The rest of our annual radiation dose comes from man- made sources, the biggest contributor by far being medical X-rays and medical procedures using radioactive substances (‘ nuclear medicine’). After these, the next most important category is the radiation that we receive from consumer products like tobacco, smoke detectors, televisions, computer screens, and vintage-glazed china. So it would best if we all quit smoking (which we should do anyway), toss out the older electronic devices we still have kicking around our homes and get rid of our old coloured dishes. And if it weren’t for their medical benefit, we should also think twice about having X-rays done on us. Sometimes we just can’t escape the fact that life is a trade-off… (Thankfully, though, the usefulness of a medical X-ray far outweighs the risks.)
Step Four: live in a plastic bubble
So what about the radiation that comes from nuclear weapon fallout and nuclear power waste? These must have some impact, surely? Surprising though it may seem, these two sources contribute a combined total of just 3% of the average person’s annual dose. To cut down on airborne nuclear fallout from bomb tests or contaminations leaked from nuclear power generators, simply encase your cozy new digs in a large plastic dome. It is wise to first lay out a larger plastic sheet on the ground, below your house, and then cover it all with a large bubble. Be sure to also install filtering vents to allow new air inside, too.
Step Five: beware bananas!
Yes, you read that right: beware bananas! One banana a week for the whole year could give you a dose of radiation equal to one dental X-ray thanks to all the naturally-occurring radioactive potassium in these tropical favourites. These sneaky yellow radiation sources have been secretly poisoning us for centuries. All of these hopelessly tongue-in-cheek tips really just serve to demonstrate one thing: the statement that “no radiation is safe” is awfully naïve since all living things on Earth have been bathed in it pretty consistently for a very long time. I don’t mean to imply that all doses are safe (at high ranges they certainly are not) but irrational measures to protect ourselves from tiny amounts are unnecessary. Anyone who works near X-rays or radioactive substances do need their doses monitored, as do airline staff (who are exposed to higher levels of cosmic radiation when flying at high altitude). But for all of us, the best protection is simply a little understanding. And if, after some research on the subject, you are still concerned, you can always cut out bananas…
Calculate your radiation exposure online with the Environment Protection Agency’s calculator.