Research and analysis

Radioactive particles near Sellafield: health risks from seafood

This report (PHE-CRCE-021) assesses the health risk associated with radioactive particles in the marine environment near Sellafield.


PHE-CRCE-021: health risk to seafood consumers from radioactive particles in the marine environment near Sellafield

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Since 2006, beaches in the vicinity of the Sellafield site in West Cumbria have been intensively monitored for radioactive objects. The aim of this programme is to help assess any potential impacts from on-site activities on the environment and people.

The Environment Agency commissioned Public Health England to provide a best estimate of the health risk to people from ingesting contaminated objects through locally caught seafood and the uncertainties associated with these estimates.

This report describes:

  • the approach used in the assessment
  • the assessed health risk from consumption of local seafood
  • a discussion of the sensitivity of the health risk to the assumptions made in the assessment

The health risk to commercial fishermen has also been assessed. The overall health risk to both local seafood consumers and commercial fishermen is very low. The highest risks of radiation-induced fatal cancer are of the order of 10,000 times smaller than the level of risk that the Health and Safety Executive considers to be the upper limit for an acceptable level of risk. The main uncertainties associated with the estimation of the health risk have also been identified.

Published 18 August 2015