Radioactivity in the environment report shows all levels and concentrations of radioactivity well within dose limits

date25 October 2018

The latest Radioactivity in Food and the Environment Report (RIFE 23) has been published today (25 October 2018) and shows that doses of radioactivity received by people in Scotland are still well within international dose limits.

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The annual RIFE report looks at the levels and concentrations of radioactivity measured in the environment during 2017 and discharges from all of the nuclear licensed sites in Scotland. It assesses the dose a member of the public could receive, based on a number of factors such as environmental concentrations, diet and activity.

This year’s data shows that doses were within the legal limits and that SEPA’s regulatory processes in relation to radioactive substances are sufficiently robust.

SEPA is responsible for the radiological monitoring that is carried out in Scotland and has a duty to ensure that no member of the public receives a dose in excess of the statutory dose limit of one millisievert (1 mSv) per year from authorised discharges.

The highest dose for a member of the public in Scotland reported was 0.035 mSv - around one thirtieth of the legal limit. As a comparison, the UK average exposure from all sources (including background radiation) is 2.7mSv, of which 0.44 mSv is from patient exposure to radiation from medical treatments.

Dr Paul Dale, Unit Manger from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said:

“RIFE 23 demonstrates that Scotland’s communities are adequately protected against sources of radioactivity that could impact on our food and the wider natural environment. Due to the low concentrations of radioactivity measured we do see some small variations, which is due to changes in diet and activities.

“The report represents a collaborative effort by all agencies to carry out rigorous annual monitoring, to ensure doses are within international limits and the 2017 report confirms that this remains the case.”

The RIFE 23 report is a joint publication between all six agencies across the UK with responsibility for ensuring that doses from authorised releases of radioactivity do not pose an unacceptable risk to health - SEPA, the Environment Agency (EA), Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS), Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

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