29 March 2011
The Agency's radiation protection experts are keeping the situation in Japan under close review and are advising UK government accordingly.
On the basis of current information, the public health protection measures taken by the authorities in Japan are appropriate and in accord with international protocols and procedures.
However, in view of the rapidly evolving situation, as a precaution, the UK government is advising UK nationals to remain outside an 80km radius of the Fukushima nuclear facility and for UK nationals in Tokyo and to the north of Tokyo to consider leaving the area. People following advice from the Japanese authorities and UK citizens who have not been inside Fukushima exclusion zone should not have been exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation. The approach taken is precautionary in light of the uncertainties surrounding the current situation.
As anticipated, the UK is now beginning to see the minutest traces of iodine - 131 associated with events at the Fukushima nuclear facility. Measurements taken at HPA's monitoring station in Oxfordshire yesterday (28 March) using very high volume air sampling techniques found trace levels of iodine - 131 in the air. The levels were extremely low at 300 micro-becquerels per cubic metre. This followed reports from HPA's monitoring stations in Glasgow and Oxfordshire of measurements averaged over the last nine days which found 11 micro-becquerels per cubic metre.
The dose received from inhaling air with these measured levels of iodine -131 is minuscule and would be very much less than the annual background radiation dose. The detection of these trace levels reflects the sensitivity of the monitoring equipment.
The levels detected therefore mean there is no public health risk in the UK from the release of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Levels may rise in the coming days and weeks but they will be significantly below any level that could cause harm to public health.
1) Because of the high volumes of air needed to identify any radioactive materials measurements normally take place over extended periods of time. HPA instituted this special high volume air sampling to establish what the levels were. These will be updated regularly.
2) For further information about radiation and the Japanese incident please go to the Health Protection Agency website.
Last reviewed: 29 March 2011