Radiation Thermometer

The purpose of the radiation thermometer is to put common radiation doses in perspective. This tool can help people assess their own risk in a radiation emergency.

Radiation dose represents the amount of radiation absorbed by the body and is measured in millisieverts (mSv) [pronounced MIH-lee SEE-vert] or rem (1 rem equals 10 mSv). The millisievert unit of measurement is used internationally while the rem is used in the United States.

Below is an interactive tool with a slider and drop down menu. View the text version of this tool here.

To use the tool, move the slider with the cursor, use the + or − buttons, or select a value from the drop-down menu. The following information will be displayed as the slider moves:

  • Radiation dose in mSv and rem
  • Examples of common radiation sources at that dose

For more information on radiation dose, see https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/dose.html

Choose A Dose
Example Of Exposure At This Dose
Example Of Exposure At This Dose Select One: Text Version
X-ray technician looking at a dental x-ray

Exposure Value

data point description text goes here
Within range of radiation levels from everyday living
Above range of radiation from everyday living, but no harm expected
Increased risk of harm later in life (symptoms may take decades to appear)
Radiation sickness is likely (symptoms may appear in days or weeks)
Death may occur in hours to days

*This is a logarithmic scale, where each gray line represents a ten times increase or decrease in the dose, rather than a one unit increase or decrease.


[1] CDC. Acute radiation syndrome: A fact sheet for physicians [online]. 2013. Available from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/emergencies/arsphysicianfactsheet.htm

[2] National Research Council of the National Academies, Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation. Health risks from exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation: BEIR VII, Phase 2 [online]. 2006. Available from URL: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11340&page=R1

[3] National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). Ionizing radiation exposure of the population of the United States. NCRP 2009;160.

[4] U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Trends in mammography dose and image quality 1974-2009 [online]. 2014. Available from URL: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/mammography-quality-standards-act-and-program.

[5] Gibbs SJ. Effective dose equivalent and effective dose: Comparison for common projections in oral and maxillofacial radiology. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Path Oral Radiol Endod 2000;90(4):538-545.

[6] Eisenbud M, Gesell T. Environmental radioactivity. 4th ed. Oxford (UK): Academic Press; 1997.

[7] Mettler F, Upton A. Medical effects of radiation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; 1995.

[8] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). PAG manual: Protective action guides and planning guidance for radiological incidents (draft for interim use and public comment) [online]. 2013. Available from URL: http://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/pag-manual-interim-public-comment-4-2-2013.pdf

[9] U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular. Radiation exposure of air carrier crewmembers – FAA AC 120-52 [online]. 1990. Available from URL: http://www.solarstorms.org/FAAAirlines.html