The CNSC Learning Portal

Visit the CNSC's new Learning Portal to find our educational resources and play the Gamma Gear game.

Check out the Learning Portal

Exercise Synergy Challenge

Exercise Synergy Challenge brought together over 1,000 people, including more than 100 CNSC staff members for a hands-on, two day immersive experience, simulating a nuclear emergency.

Check out the video Exercise Synergy Challenge

Now available

The Science of Safety – CNSC Research Report 2016–17

Read the report

Notice of public meeting and participant funding offerings

Funding opportunities are currently available for the May 16, 2019 Best Theratronics Ltd. licence renewal hearing.

Learn more

Latest News

November 13, 2018
  • Participant funding is currently available for the May 16, 2019 hearing to consider the Best Theratronics Ltd. licence renewal
November 9, 2018
  • Mr. Foy will give a presentation titled “Decommissioning and Legacy Remediation in the UK – Progress and Challenges”
November 7, 2018
  • Licensee must ensure that all workers operating exposure devices are certified or supervised
  • A review of small modular reactor designs and the pre-licensing vendor design review process
November 5, 2018
  • Check out the new Learning Portal and play the Gamma Gear game
October 29, 2018
  • You have until November 20, 2018 to submit your feedback.
  • The CNSC’s Chief Science Officer opened the meeting with comments on the value of the CNSC’s participation in RAMP.



Hi, I'm Adam.

What do you think of when I say "nuclear" or "radiation"?

Not these?

What if I told you that radiation is all around us?

Don't believe me?

Well, let's have a look around.

Have you ever heard of cosmic radiation?

It comes from the sun and from space but the Earth's atmosphere provides us with a lot of protection from cosmic radiation.

It makes up about one-fifth of the naturally occurring radiation we are all exposed to everyday on Earth.

Of course, the higher up you go, the less protection from the atmosphere there is.

That's why your exposure to natural radiation increases when you work in space, take a flight, or even go mountain climbing.

But don't worry, the extra radiation exposure you'd get from taking a cross-Canada flight is only a tiny fraction of the total radiation dose you can be safely exposed to in one year.

The Earth itself is also naturally radioactive.

Radioactive elements like carbon and hydrogen occur in plants, water, and air.

Rocks and soil also contain small amounts of uranium.

Sixty percent of all the radiation you are exposed to comes from naturally occurring sources like the sun and the Earth.

So, where, then, does the other forty percent come from?

From man-made nuclear activities.

And that's where we come in.

I work at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, or CNSC for short.

We regulate the use of all nuclear substances in Canada,

whether they're being used to power a reactor, to detect cracks in a jet engine, or to detect and treat cancer, just to name a few.

Most of the exposure you'll receive from man-made nuclear activities will actually come from medical procedures.

Nuclear medicine is used to diagnose and treat many different illnesses.

Cancer clinics use nuclear substances or machines like linear accelerators to treat cancers by targeting the cancer cells with high-energy beams.

They can also use tiny radioactive implants to kill the cancer cells.

The CNSC inspects hospitals and clinics to make sure that the nuclear substances and equipment are being used safely.

We also make sure the nuclear substances are disposed of properly.

The CNSC also licenses many other uses for nuclear substances.

They can be found in just about every neighbourhood.

Let's start with your home.

Say you were going through your daily morning routine, and you burn your toast, what would happen? [smoke detector beeping]

This right?

This smoke detector would go off.

Most household smoke detectors contain a radioactive material called Americium-241 to detect smoke in the air.

They are safe and do not pose any health risk to you or your family.

The CNSC licenses the Canadian companies that design and produce smoke detectors.

Did you know that your computer, your alarm clock and all other electric appliances in your home could be powered by nuclear technology?

Fifteen percent of Canada's electricity is generated by nuclear power plants.

Which brings us here...

There are a total of nineteen nuclear reactors in Canada.

The CNSC licenses these facilities to ensure that they operate safely.

One of their license conditions is to regularly test the ground and surface water around the facility to make sure people and the environment are safe.

Now let's move on to your school.

Wondering where you can find the nuclear material?

It's right here... in the exit sign.

Tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, is sealed inside glass tubes that are treated with phosphor.

The tritium makes the phosphor glow, even during a power outage as it doesn't need electricity or batteries to work.

Supermarkets, hospitals, and many other public places use tritium exit signs.

And yes, as you probably guessed, we regulate facilities that process tritium.

So what does your supermarket have to do with nuclear technology?

In Canada, a number of foods such as onions, potatoes, wheat, flour, spices and some seasonings are approved for irradiation.

Irradiation is the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation in order to kill microorganisms.

This is done to prevent food poisoning from harmful bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella, and to keep food fresh longer.

And no, irradiating food does not make the food radioactive.

Now we all know that summer in Canada is construction season.

Portable gauges are radiation devices often used on constructions sites.

They can measure road thickness and detect moisture in soil without having to dig.

The CNSC licenses all handheld radiation devices and ensures that anyone using them has been properly trained.

Now for the really cool stuff - space exploration also relies on nuclear technology to study and explore our solar system, including Earth, the Moon and Mars.

Although the United States led the charge in the latest Mars space missions, Canada contributed in small but significant ways.

In one of the missions to Mars, Canadians contributed the Alpha

Particle X-Ray Spectrometer, or APXS for short.

It's a sensor that uses alpha particles and

X-rays to determine the chemical composition of the rocks on Mars.

So as you can see, radiation and nuclear technology are all around us... near and far.

The CNSC ensures that all nuclear facilities, activities and man-made substances are safe in Canada and that you and I, and the environment are protected.

Upcoming Commission proceedings

Recent Decisions

  • September 27, 2018
    Decision on the request to renew Bruce Power’s nuclear power reactor operating licence for the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station
    News release
  • August 8, 2018
    Summary decision on OPG’s application to renew the operating licence for the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
    News release | Summary record of decision
  • August 1, 2018
    Decision on the request from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to renew the nuclear research and test establishment decommissioning licence for the Whiteshell Laboratories
    Record of decision
  • August 1, 2018
    Decision on the request from AREVA Resources Canada Inc. to amend the Cluff Lake Project operating licence to reflect the corporate name change from AREVA Resources Canada Inc. to Orano Canada Inc. and to amend the financial guarantee for the Cluff Lake Project
    Record of decision
  • July 12, 2018
    Decision on the request from AREVA Resources Canada Inc. to amend the McClean Lake operating licence to reflect the corporate name change from AREVA Resources Canada Inc. to Orano Canada Inc.
    Record of decision

Stay connected

You can get the latest information on Canadian nuclear regulatory oversight by choosing one or more of the following.

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