Tiny amount of radioactive material from Japanese reactors detected in isles

Air samples from Shetland have detected a tiny amount of radioactive iodine from the Japanese nuclear reactors hit by last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) took measurements from a high value air sampler located in Lerwick which proved consistent with those taken in other European countries such as Iceland and Switzerland. The concentrations are so low that they pose no threat to human health or the environment.

Sepa has also been informed of several other sites in Scotland where low levels of radioactive particles have been found. These include grass samples from around the Dounreay nuclear site and air samplers from East Kilbride and Glasgow, each reporting particles of iodine-131.

Although the concentration has yet to be determined, there is no reason to believe that the potential health implications of this would be any different from those associated with the iodine-131 detected elsewhere in the UK.

Dr Paul Dale, a radioactive substances specialist at Sepa, said: “The concentrations of iodine detected at Lerwick and Glasgow are both extremely low and do not pose any threat to health or the environment.

“The fact that such low concentrations of this radionuclide were detected demonstrates how effective the UK and Scottish surveillance programme for radioactive substances is, and supports the judgement that these observations are the result of a release or releases from the Japanese reactors.

“Sepa has an ongoing comprehensive monitoring programme for radioactivity in Scotland and has increased the level of scrutiny to provide ongoing public assurance during this period. Sepa will provide any further information on the detection of radioactive iodine in the environment as it becomes available.”


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