Radiation from the earthquake-damaged nuclear power station in Japan has hit the UK for the first time – in Scotland.
Radioactive iodine has been detected in the air of Glasgow following damage to the Fukushima plant, hit by a 9.0 magnitude quake earlier this month.
The leaking radiation was picked up by hi-tech surveillance equipment at a lab in south Glasgow. It was discovered during regular routine checks for pollution in the air.
Radiation has also been detected in Oxfordshire, according to the Health Protection Agency.
The radiation in Japan is so severe there is a 12-mile exclusion zone around the plant and UK nationals have been advised to stay outside of a 50-mile radius.
Radiation was released into the atmosphere after Japan’s biggest ever earthquake damaged the nuclear power station causing it to overheat and explode.
But the radiation has drifted halfway across the world to reach England and Scotland, after passing over eastern Europe.
The discovery, the first detection of fallout from the Japanese disaster in the UK, was made by the Health Protection Agency at its laboratory close to the Southern General hospital.
It picked up trace levels of Iodine-131, using a highly sensitive air sampler, which is able to detect low levels of radiation.
The amount seen is similar to those reported by environmental monitors in Switzerland and Iceland.
Environmental officials in Scotland are stressing that the radiation levels found were very low and reassuring people not to panic.
Dr James Gemmill, radioactive substances manager for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), said: ”The concentration if iodine detected is extremely low and is not of concern for the public or the environment.
”The fact such a low concentration was detected demonstrates how effective the surveillance programme for radioactive substances is in the UK.
”SEPA has an ongoing comprehensive monitoring programme for radioactivity in Scotland and has increased the level of scrutiny to provide ongoing public assurance during this period.”
Analysts in the UK are keeping a close eye on changes in the air as a result of the Fukushima reactor damage and keeping the Government informed.
Dr Michael Clark, science spokesman for the Health Protection Agency (HPA), added: ”Very low levels of radioactivity, traceable to Fukushima, have been detected at monitoring stations in the UK including Chilton, in Oxfordshire, and Glasgow, in Scotland.
”These traces have been found in Europe – Switzerland, Germany and Iceland – and in the USA.
”They’re trace levels but of course with radioactivity we can measure very low amounts.”
Officials in Japan have confirmed radiation in the water leaking from its plant is at 100,000 times its normal level and has been found in nearby plants and the ocean.
Plutonium detected at the site indicates there has been ”certain damage to fuel rods”.
Traces of radioactivity have been found in rain in America and in south-eastern China and South Korea.
More than 18,000 are reported to have died following the earthquake and tsunami and almost 20,000 people are still missing.