Background radiation is all around us. Some of it comes from natural sources and some comes from artificial sources.
Natural sources of background radiation include:
For most people, natural sources contribute the most to their background radiation dose.
There is little we can do about natural background radiation. After all, we cannot stop eating, drinking or breathing to avoid it!
However, human activity has added to background radiation by creating and using artificial sources of radiation. These include medical X-rays, radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing and radioactive waste from nuclear power stations.
Artificial sources account for about 15 per cent of the average background radiation dose. Nearly all artificial background radiation comes from medical procedures, such as receiving X-rays for X-ray photographs.