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Volume 80: debated on Thursday 13 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the health implications of the levels of natural radioactivity present in the atmosphere, and through domestic appliances such as colour television sets, in so far as they relate to levels of radioactivity adjacent to nuclear power installations.

The radiation exposure which derives from all sources of natural radioactivity greatly exceeds that from waste discharged from nuclear power installations. The most recent survey carried out by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) on radiation exposure of the United Kingdom population indicated that 87 per cent. was due to all natural sources as compared to about 0ยท1 per cent. from the discharge of radioactive waste from nuclear installations.Colour TV sets produce very low levels of radiation, these being negligible compared to natural sources. In the NRPB report quoted above it was estimated that the average annual dose received by the United Kingdom population from this source was less than half a millionth of that due to natural background radiation.Exposure to radiation may ultimately result in cancer, and it is generally accepted that the effects of radiation are directly proportional to the dose, down to the lowest dose levels. This assumes that any dose of radiation, however small, carries with it some risk to health. It has been estimated that exposure to natural background levels of radiation is associated with an annual risk of serious harm of about 1 in 50,000.