Research and analysis

Ionising radiation exposure of the UK population: 2005 review

This report (HPA-RPD-001) is one of a series of reviews giving estimates of the ionising radiation exposure of the UK population.

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HPA-RPD-001: ionising radiation exposure of the UK population: 2005 review

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Since 1974, periodic reviews have been published which have provided estimates of the exposure of the UK population from ionising radiation sources. This review gives estimates of individual doses based predominantly on data collected for the years 2001 to 2003.

The average annual dose from natural radiation was found to be 2.23 microsieverts and about half of this was from radon exposure indoors. Artificial sources of radiation are subject to variations and trends that reflect current technology and radiological protection practices. The average annual dose from artificial radiation was found to be a little over 0.42 microsieverts and mainly derived from the use of X-rays in medical procedures. The overall average annual dose was therefore almost 2.7 microsieverts.

The non-medical artificial sources include consumer products, fallout from weapons testing in the past, and discharges of radioactive wastes from industrial and nuclear sites. Exposures to members of the public from these sources remained at a very low level.

There has been a long-term trend towards lower occupational doses in the nuclear industry, and worker doses in medicine, general industry and research tend to be low. Radon exposure at work continued to make the largest contribution to all occupational exposure.

Published 1 May 2005