The IAEA develops safety standards that establish radiation safety principles and describe the practices associated with the use of ionizing radiation. The application of these safety principles ensures that the environment is adequately protected from radiation.

Natural sources of radiation are present throughout the environment. In addition to natural radiation, the testing of nuclear weapons and nuclear accidents, such as those that occurred at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 generated additional radiation that is currently also present in the environment.

Radiation in the environment from past practices or accidents

Large-scale accidents release radioactive materials into the atmosphere. These are distributed widely throughout the environment in which we live. There are also authorized discharges, from nuclear and other facilities, that release radioactive materials into the environment. These are strictly controlled to protect the environment and to ensure that the public who may be exposed, is adequately protected.