No. The small fraction of cancers in the average European population that might be due to radiation exposure, perhaps 1 – 2%, are attributable to the greatest sources of population radiation exposure, namely diagnostic medical examinations and sources of natural background radiation, principally radon.

Some man-made sources of radiation like nuclear power production, or transport and disposal of nuclear waste, or accidents involving radioactive material are perceived as threatening and attract media attention. In the vast majority of situations, the combination of good regulatory control over radiation and radioactive material, good clinical judgement in the medical setting and good attention to indoor radon, can keep radiation exposures and the associated cancer risk very low. Industrial uses of radiation and radioactivity are governed by strict regulations. Under normal operating conditions, average public radiation exposures from these sources are very small. Nuclear sites that hold radioactive material are required to have safety arrangements and emergency response plans including arrangements to inform and protect people living nearby.

Figure 4: Sources of radiation


Source: Adapted with permission from§ion=protection, accessed 10 March 2014.