In Canada, natural ionizing radiation exposes people to a yearly dose of 1,8 mSv. Natural sources of radiation include solar cosmic rays, soil and materials such as granite and brick, as well as food minerals.
In addition to this natural exposure, people are exposed to ionizing radiation from man-made sources, such as medical examinations, airplane travel and television, which add an average of 1 mSv per person.
In Canada, the Radiation Protection Regulations drafted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) limit the dose of radiation attributable to activities licensed by the CNSC that may be received by members of the public. The effective dose limit for the Canadian general public is 1 mSv per calendar year. Every year, the estimated annual dose received by representative members of the population in the Gentilly-2 area has always been less than 1% of this prescribed effective dose limit.
The effects of exposure on the human body are dependent upon several factors: radiation type (alpha, beta, gamma), dose and duration.
According to a 2003 study by the Direction de santé publique of the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux, cancer rates in the area around Gentilly-2 nuclear generating station are no higher than elsewhere in Québec.
In 2004, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carried out a study on cancer risk in nuclear industry workers. Data from Gentilly-2 was combined with data on nearly 600,000 workers in 15 countries. The study showed that in Canada, general mortality and cancer rates are lower and leukemia rates are no higher among nuclear industry workers than among the general population.
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