The majority of civilization-related radiation exposure is caused by medical x-ray applications for diagnostic purposes. Including the dose from nuclear medicine the resulting average effective dose of the population in Germany amounts to 1.8 mSv per year. A further contribution to the radiation dose entails the still existing effects of above-ground nuclear weapon tests. The radiation dose resulting from global fallout in the atmosphere is decreasing since the suspension of the nuclear weapon tests. In the mid-sixties, it amounted to up to 0.2 mSv per year, presently the exposure is less than 0.005 mSv per year. Air traffic contributes about 0.01 mSv per year to the annual effective dose. The additional radiation dose on a flight Frankfurt – New York – Frankfurt amounts to approx. 0.1 mSv. The average dose due to the peaceful use of nuclear energy for the inhabitants in the vicinity of 3 km around a nuclear power plant due to the discharge of radioactive substances with the exhaust air is less than 0.0003 mSv per year. The mean value of the total civilization-related radiation exposure in Germany amounts to about 1.8 mSv annually.


Cause for radiation dose

Effective dose in mSv/year

Mean value for the

Range of values for
individual persons

Medicine (2011)


0.01 to 30



0.01 to 3

Chernobyl accident


0.002 to 0.04

Nuclear weapon tests


0.002 to 0.01

Fossil energy carriers


0.001 to 0.01

Nuclear power plants


0.001 to 0.01

occupational exposed persons


0.1 to 20



Civilization-related radiation exposure in Germany, 2013