Everything on earth is made up of tiny particles called atoms. Some atoms give off radiation. People cannot see, taste, feel, hear or smell radiation, but there are instruments that can detect it.
We are exposed to small amounts of radiation everyday. It's in the air we breath, the food we eat, even inside our own bodies. It's normal to be exposed to small amounts of radiation, but to be safe, you should limit the amount. The average American receives over 300 millirem of radiation a year from natural resources. Radiation also comes from man-made sources used by doctors and dentists, and in helpful medical ways.
Radiation levels at nuclear plants are checked constantly. The law limits levels released from a plant.
Examples of Radiation Doses:
The Earth and Air - 56 millirem per year
Natural radioactivity in the body - 39 millirem per year
Building materials (brick or stone) - 3.6 millirem per year
Chest X-rays - 6 millirem each
Color TV - less than 1 millirem per year
(sources: National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP Report No. 93), 1987
What is Nuclear Power?
Nuclear power is produced by controlled (i.e., non-explosive) nuclear reactions. Commercial and utility plants currently use nuclear fission reactions to heat water to produce steam, which is then used to generate electricity. When uranium atoms are split, radiation is produced. Normally, a nuclear power plant releases very small amounts of radiation as a gas. At most, this will add only one or two millirem to the normal dose received by people in Lake County. This radiation is less than the limit set by the law. No radiation is released by the cooling towers.