Exposure of the Population to All Sources of Radiation: 2003
Average annual dose in Scotland, 2,400 microsieverts
The average annual dose of radiation to someone living in Scotland is 2,400 microsieverts, 83% of which comes from natural sources. The main source of natural radiation exposure is radon, a radioactive gas that is emitted from tiny amounts of uranium naturally present in materials such as rocks, soils, bricks and concrete.
Radon decays and emits short-lived products that can increase the risk of lung cancer. The action level for radon in the home is 200 Bq/m3, above which measures should be taken to reduce concentrations. Other important natural sources of radiation are cosmic rays, terrestrial gamma rays and long-lived radionuclides that enter the body through food and drink.
The greatest artificial source of exposure to radiation comes from medical x-rays. Nuclear waste disposals and fall-out account for less than 0.3% of exposure. The Chernobyl reactor incident in 1986 caused average annual doses from fall-out to increase by about five times that year.
Email: Sandy McPhee
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