Are you considering a career in the nuclear power industry? It's important to understand the potential health risks associated with working in a nuclear power plant. While modern nuclear reactors are designed to prevent radiation leakage, and alarm systems are in place to signal any leaks, it's still important to be aware of the potential risks. The average person in the United States receives an exposure of 300 millirem per year from natural sources of background radiation. In comparison, if you lived within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant, you would receive an average radiation dose of approximately 0.01 millirem per year.
Researchers have conducted extensive epidemiological studies of nuclear power plant workers and reported that the analysis of the remaining Canadian nuclear workers (93.2 percent) provided no evidence of increased risk, and the risk estimate was consistent with the estimates that form the basis of radiation protection standards. In addition, less than 5% of workers in the nuclear industry received the maximum cumulative radiation dose of 100 millisieverts throughout their careers, and most of those doses were received in the early days of the nuclear industry, when radiation protection standards were less rigorous. The individual dosimeters of nuclear power plant workers since the 1940s have been maintained and available for analysis to correlate them with the long-term health of workers. Based on those estimates, researchers say that about 1 to 2% of all deaths among workers in the nuclear industry can be attributed to radiation exposure.
Human exposure to I-131 released by accidents at nuclear power plants stems mainly from the consumption of contaminated water, milk, or food. The recent explosion at the Fukushima power plant in Japan has not yet shown any acute effect on those most exposed to radiation, but it has created negative attitudes towards nuclear power and the nuclear power plant. Although working in a nuclear power plant is not a risky occupation, it's important to be aware of the potential health risks associated with exposure to ionizing radiation. All workers will wear dosimeters to monitor their individual exposure levels, and it's important to follow safety protocols and regulations to ensure your safety.