How-To Geek

Understanding Radiation Exposure [Infographic]

If the nuclear reactor situation in Japan has you curious about radiation exposure and what the different levels and degrees mean, this easy to read infographic from XKCD should help clear things up.

Radiation exposure rates aren’t exactly the most intuitive thing to understand. XKCD, known for their science-laden comic strips, has put together an infographic explaining how and where we are exposed to different levels of radiation and how those levels relate across the scale of radiation exposure. You’ll learn about everything from radioactive bananas to what constitutes fatal radiation exposure. Hit up the link below to see it full size.

Radiation Dose Chart [XKCD via boingboing]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/21/11

Comments (9)

  1. sky fri

    The one thing I want all of this compared Nuclear Bombs seems to not be mentioned anywhere. How does a nuclear bomb compare to a nuclear plant meltdown?

  2. sky fri

    The one thing I want all of this compared to, Nuclear Bombs, seems to not be mentioned anywhere. How does a nuclear bomb compare to a nuclear plant meltdown?

  3. Chronno S. Trigger

    @Sky Fri

    Doing a quick look around, I can’t find any information on the radiation levels on nuclear bombs. Not even Little Boy or Fat Man. Reading threw the Wikipedia page, I think it says why that is; “Most people close enough to receive lethal doses of direct radiation died in the firestorm before their radiation injuries would have become apparent.” From there, radiation levels will vary depending on bomb type, focal point, wind direction, and other factors.

    I don’t think they’re measured in Rads, just destructive force.

  4. sky fri

    @Chronno I live in Northern Cali and they talk about fallout from Japan. But I would think the fallout from Hydrogen Bombs even Fat man would be alot more then a nuclear reactor. Just wondering, is that info not available because they dont want us to know how exposed we already are?

  5. mark

    I’ve listened to the hysterics over radiation and that’s all it is in California. Obviously in Japan it is a big deal, those engineers risking (sacrificing) their lives are true hero’s. Anyone who frequently flies coast to coast gets far more radiation than we would ever get from Japan, even under a worse case scenario.

  6. Odin


  7. Lisa4588

    To sky fri: I googled “difference nuclear plant meltdown vs nuclear bomb” and I think you’ll find your answer there…good luck.

  8. brokentung
  9. Art Kennedy

    An interesting chart and well done. Unfortunately it leaves out the crucial distinction between direct radition and contamination by radioactive materials. In the case of persons as well informed as these it seems likely to be deliberate. Plutonium for instance, with a half life of 250,000 years, if ingested finds a home in your body where it bombards surrounding cells with “very low levels of radiation” until something bad happens, or not if you are very lucky. Same is true for the creatures of the sea that are so important to our survival.

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