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Glossary of Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy Research

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See also the Plasma Dictionary.

  Term: Background Radiation
  Definition: Level of environmental radation due to "background" sources. Background sources can be natural, such as cosmic rays and natural radioactive elements (principally radon, but including other elements such as isotopes of potassium (which people get substantial amounts of in foods like bananas)). They can also be man-made, such as from fossil-fuel combustion, everyday leakage from nuclear activities, and leftover from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. Background radiation is usually distinguished from acute radiation, such as from medical x-rays, nuclear accidents, radioisotope therapy, or other short-term doses. The man-made contribution to background radiation is quite small compared to the natural contribution; medical uses dominate human exposure to acute radiation.

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