Application of the data in the Medical Research Council (I975) report on “Criteria for Controlling Radiation Doses to the Public after Accidental Release of Radioactive Material” to the circumstances of the Windscale reactor accident, confirms the views held at the time of the accident that 131I was the most important radionuclide concerned, especially with respect to its ingestion in milk by infants, and that control of milk distribution would significantly reduce its effects. Estimates of dose in thyroids using data in the report and activities of 131I in air, on pasture and in milk measured at the time of the accident agree well with those made from direct measurements of the activities of 131I in human thyroids. It is shown that the dose resulting from ingestion of 89Sr, 90Sr, 131I and 137Cs in milk can be many times greater than from inhalation of these radionuclides after their accidental release to the environment. This has an important bearing on the siting of nuclear reactors in relation to milk producing areas.
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