How much risk is associated with having a routine x-ray exam?
Plain film x-rays are very low dose, for example a chest x-ray is about 0.02 mSv (millisieverts). We are all exposed to ionizing radiation everyday. On average Americans receive a radiation dose of 6.2 mSv each year. Half of this dose comes from natural background radiation. Most of the background radiation exposure comes from radon in the air, with smaller amounts from cosmic rays and the Earth itself. The other half comes form man made sources of radiation, including medical, commercial, and industrial sources. In general, a yearly dose of 6.2 mSv from all radiation sources has not been shown to cause humans any harm according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.