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What U.S. landmark is radioactive?

Grand Central Terminal is radioactive

Next time you find yourself arriving at Grand Central Terminal, feel free to inform the person sitting next to you that the architectural landmark is radioactive — and, once their expression changes, be sure to also tell them that it’s only by a harmless amount. Located in midtown Manhattan, New York’s most-beloved transportation hub (sorry not sorry, Penn Station) was built between 1903 and 1913 out of granite, which contains higher levels of uranium than most other stones. Still, the levels aren’t all that high: The average person is exposed to 360 milliremsof radiation per year, 300 of which come from natural sources, and Grand Central employees would absorb about 120 mrem at work over the course of a year.


The building is also hardly alone in being radioactive. The U.S. Capitol Building, which is also made of granite, contains so muchradiation that it would fail the safety standards required to be licensed as a nuclear power plant. (Fret not — your favorite member of Congress isn’t at risk.) When it comes to snacks, Brazil nuts have the dubious honor of being 1,000 times more radioactive than most other foods; luckily for anyone who picks them out of cans of mixed nuts, you’d have to eat about 50 every day to notice any ill effects. 


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