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Home News centre National Press Releases 2007 Press Releases ›  Polonium-210 public health investigation - supporting overseas countries and territories involved

Polonium-210 public health investigation - supporting overseas countries and territories involved

27 March 2007

The Health Protection Agency is holding a special conference in London today to share the public health experience of the Polonium-210 incident with front line colleagues from across the world. Details of the 52 overseas countries and territories involved in the public health follow-up will be presented as part of the event.


The Agency provided expert advice on the public health issues surrounding the death of Mr. Alexander Litvinenko and carried out an extensive monitoring programme of people and places identified by the police investigation. Radiation monitoring established that there is no public health concern in the open public areas and urine. Monitoring results received show that the risk to the general public from any exposure to Polonium-210 (Po-210) is likely to be very low.

Urine samples from more than 700 individuals in the UK were tested with the vast majority showing no health concerns.

673 overseas individuals from 52 countries and territories were also identified as requiring follow-up. The Agency passed their details (in medical confidence) to the public health departments in the relevant country for testing as appropriate. (A full list of countries is given below)

Of the overseas results received so far all bar three people have had doses of less than 1 millisievert (mSv) indicating no public health risk and no health concern to the individuals.

Three overseas people had results above 1mSv, but below 6mSv indicating no public health risk, and no health concern to the individual, but probable contact with Po-210.

Professor Pat Troop , Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency said:

"The events surrounding the death of Mr Litvinenko and the subsequent public health follow-up were unprecedented in the UK and there was an international dimension.

"Working closely with overseas colleagues has been a key element of our public health follow-up work. The results we have received so far are in line with those for UK residents confirming that for the vast majority there is no public health risk and no major health concerns for individuals.

"Throughout, our primary concern was to protect the public. From among our staff we were able to call on a range of specialists to provide expert advice as the lead public health responder.

"W e also worked in close partnership with colleagues in the NHS - in particular NHS Direct, University College London Hospitals and Barnet General Hospital , the Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council and other local authorities and colleagues from across Government. This coordinated multi-agency approach was essential to ensure that the public was protected and reassured.

"Our conference today aims to share our experiences with front line colleagues from across the world to help us all prepare for any future incident."

Notes for Editors

1. Overseas countries and territories with residents identified as part of the Po-210 public health investigations:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • China (inc Hong Kong)
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • India
  • Israel
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico 
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Norway 
  • Oman
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania 
  • Russia
  • San Marino  
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • South Africa  
  • Spain  
  • Sudan
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland  
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • USA

2. UK test result update

Category 1

601 people had results 'below reporting level' - below 30 millibecquerels (mBq) per day (natural levels of Po-210 in urine are typically in the range 5-15 mBq per day). It is therefore unlikely that any of these people had been exposed to Po-210

Category 2

85 people had results above 30 mBq per day in their urine, but with a dose less than 1mSv indicating no public health risk, and no health concern to the individual, but probable contact with Po-210

Category 3a

35 people had results above 1mSv, but below 6mSv indicating no public health risk, and no health concern to the individual, but probable contact with Po-210

There are 721 results in categories 1, 2 and 3a and these are NOT of health concern.

Category 3b

17 people had results above 6mSv which are not significant enough to cause any illness in the short term and any increased risk in the long term is likely to be very small

3. Further information is available on www.hpa.org.uk

4. This will be the last HPA update press statement regarding the urine sample test results. We will look to publish a final results total later in the year (a final few results are awaited) via our website.

5. Media enquiries to HPA London press office on 020 7759 2824 or 020 7759 2834 or the HPA CRCE press office on 01235 822 745.

Last reviewed: 2 June 2010