What to know before you go bananas about radiation

Putting fears over nuclear energy and radiation into perspective

Giant lizards destroying cities. Mushroom clouds. Three-eyed fish.

These are the things many people picture when they think of nuclear radiation. The general feeling is that any amount of radiation is too much radiation — but, in truth, we’re all exposed to radiation every day.

You can’t even eat a simple banana without getting exposed to radiation — a small fraction of the potassium in bananas naturally occurs as the radioactive potassium-40 isotope. But don’t spit up your smoothie: The dose of radiation from a single banana is very small, far less than the background radiation from simply living on Earth.

For a quick shot of perspective, it’s handy to look at the “banana equivalent dose” from common sources of radiation that people worry about, from airport security scans to mammograms. Some fears about nuclear radiation are well-justified. Others? Well, they’re just a bunch of bananas.

Don't let nuclear power drive you bananas. Learn about innovations in nuclear technology that make it greener and safer by watching the video below.