PEOPLE living around the Cumbrian coast were exposed to radiation around nuclear sites last year, according to a government report.

The highest exposure in 2022 - which equated to 24 per cent of the legal limit - was due to people eating locally produced seafood (fish and crustacean), said the report.

The Radioactivity in Food and the Environment report, which drew together radiation levels around the country's nuclear sites, said exposure levels - which were well within safe limits - were mainly caused by naturally occurring radioactive materials as well as historical discharges from Sellafield.

The figure of 24 per cent was a small increase from 21 per cent the previous year.

In Barrow, residents faced radiation levels around three per cent of the legal limit with the report attributing the small exposure from discharges at Sellafield.

The report collated data from radiation levels measured in food and the environment around nuclear sites.

Most of the UK's releases of radiation are said to come from permitted or authorised discharged.

Only a tiny amount of radiation exposure comes from nuclear sites, the report said, with the majority coming from naturally occurring radon gas and medical radiation.

The report said: "Radioactivity is all around us. It occurs naturally in the earth’s crust, and it can be found in the food we eat, the water we drink, as well as the air we breathe.

"We are also exposed to artificial sources of radioactivity, such as in medical applications used in hospitals and nuclear power. It is a legal requirement to ensure that the radiation exposure from artificial radioactivity, from all sources, is kept within a safe limit. Globally, strict regulations and recommendations are in place to protect the public and the environment.

"In the UK, the radiation exposure from artificial radioactivity in the environment mainly comes from permitted or authorised releases from UK nuclear sites.

"In addition to these sites, there are other users of radioactivity, such as hospitals, research or industrial facilities. 

"The main aim of the RIFE programme is to monitor the environment and the diet of people living or working near nuclear and selected non-nuclear sites.

"From this monitoring, we can estimate the amount of radioactivity the public is exposed to, and in particular, those groups of people who are most exposed because of their age, diet, location or lifestyle."

Sellafield was contacted for comment.