Ionising radiation

Radiation is all around us. It comes from the Earth and from space. It is present in our food, and we receive controlled doses in medical examinations such as X-rays. Industrial and research facilities can also generate ionising radiation.

At CERN, ionising radiation is produced by the collision of particle beams with matter. CERN’s unique facilities require innovative approaches to minimise the exposure of workers, the public and the environment, making CERN one of the recognised leaders in this field. CERN’s radiation protection is in line with best practices in Europe.

To quantify the impact on the public and the environment, emissions are continuously monitored, environmental samples analysed and the results are published in reports made available to the Swiss and French Authorities. For more information see the CERN Environment Report.

The following figure shows the typical range of the annual doses received by members of the population living or working close to CERN sites. The dose range is compared to the external exposure induced by radiation of natural origins (cosmic, telluric) as measured in several municipalities located in the Lake Geneva region.

Natural sources of ionising radiation

NATURAL SOURCES OF IONISING RADIATION NEIGHBOURING COMMUNITIES. The typical dose (green) measured at several places neighbouring the dose induced by CERN activities (blue).

The annual dose received by members of the population located near CERN sites remains smaller than the typical variation of the natural exposures measured at different locations in the surrounding areas. In other words, moving from one municipality to another in the area may cause more extra dose than living on CERN’s borders. This proves that the actual radiological impact of CERN is indeed negligible.