Managing exposure to ionizing radiation

On this page:

Exposure to ionizing radiation

Everyone is exposed to ionizing radiation all of the time. Sources include naturally occurring radioactivity from rocks and soil, cosmic rays and, to a very small extent, human activities. This is called background radiation and it varies across Canada, depending on factors such as local geology and altitude. Other factors that can contribute to an individual’s exposure level, or “dose,” include their job, medical diagnostics and treatments, and air travel. For most Canadians, the biggest single source of exposure is radon.

Managing radiation exposure

Radiation protection is about managing exposure so that people, animals, and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of radiation.

Authorities set levels, expressed in terms of radiation dose over a period of time (e.g. millisieverts per year (mSv/y) or activity concentration (e.g., becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3)). In Canada, authorities establish these levels by considering international recommendations from organizations such as the International Commission on Radiological Protection and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Examples of exposure management and responsible authorities

The following settings are subject to exposure management in Canada, either by regulation or voluntary guidelines:

Page details

Date modified: