Where are the most radioactive parts of the UK?

Hear the word uranium and you'll likely think of towering nuclear power stations or the tragic incidents at Chernobyl or Fukshima. However, uranium is also a naturally occurring element that is found in almost all rocks present on Planet Earth. In fact, natural radiation makes up most of the overall background radiation that humans are exposed to each year. Human-induced causes, like the notorious accidents such as Fukushima or medical x-rays, typically constitute only a miniscule amount. The average radioactive background dose in the UK is 2.7 millisieverts. But some regions, in particular those where granite is present in the ground, that are radiation hot spots. The most significant of these is Cornwall in the south-west of the UK, where the average background dose of radiation is a whopping 7.8 mSv. That is nearly three times the national average! This is because of the presence of igneous granite, which naturally contains more uranium than other types of rock. Radioactive areas tend to be hilly, where igneous rocks have been forced to the surface or left behind by the erosion of softer sedimentary rocks (the Chiltern Hills are particularly radioactive, for example). Aberdeen in Scotland is another hotspot as the city is built on radium-rich rock. When inhaled, it attaches itself to cells lining the lungs, and is especially harmful to smokers, whose cells have likely already sustained damage. But hardly anyone knows about the risks of living in a naturally high-radiation area...

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