There is no threshold below which damage by radiation does not occur. Its effects are cumulative and consequently all types of radiation, natural or manmade, will have an effect on living organisms. There are four main types of radiation caused by alpha, beta, gamma and neutron particles. Some radiation occurs naturally (cosmic and radon) and some occurs by manmade sources (nuclear power, weapons, medical and sterilisation).
The monitoring performed by West Somerset Council is in conjunction with Somerset County Council and we measure gamma activity and cosmic radiation by Thermoluminescent Dosimeters (TLD) and terrestrial gamma activity by an ERM 6-80 Environmental Radiation Meter. It is performed every three months to establish background levels and the locations of the TLD + 6-80 ERM are at Elworthy, Luxborough and Exford.
Additional sampling is also undertaken to monitor radioactivity (grass, milk, soil cores, land food samples, estuary and beach sediments, seaweed and seafood) and for further information please contact the Council on 01643 703704.
Somerset County Council is a member of Larnet and which extends the experience and expertise in the field of radiation through member involvement. Other useful websites include the Health Protection Agency.