A Bayesian analysis of plutonium exposures in Sellafield workers

Matthew Puncher, A. E. Riddell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The joint Russian (Mayak Production Association) and British (Sellafield) plutonium worker epidemiological analysis, undertaken as part of the European Union Framework Programme 7 (FP7) SOLO project, aims to investigate potential associations between cancer incidence and occupational exposures to plutonium using estimates of organ/tissue doses. The dose reconstruction protocol derived for the study makes best use of the most recent biokinetic models derived by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) including a recent update to the human respiratory tract model (HRTM). This protocol was used to derive the final point estimates of absorbed doses for the study. Although uncertainties on the dose estimates were not included in the final epidemiological analysis, a separate Bayesian analysis has been performed for each of the 11 808 Sellafield plutonium workers included in the study in order to assess: A. The reliability of the point estimates provided to the epidemiologists and B. The magnitude of the uncertainty on dose estimates. This analysis, which accounts for uncertainties in biokinetic model parameters, intakes and measurement uncertainties, is described in the present paper. The results show that there is excellent agreement between the point estimates of dose and posterior mean values of dose. However, it is also evident that there are significant uncertainties associated with these dose estimates: the geometric range of the 97.5%:2.5% posterior values are a factor of 100 for lung dose, 30 for doses to liver and red bone marrow, and 40 for intakes: these uncertainties are not reflected in estimates of risk when point doses are used to assess them. It is also shown that better estimates of certain key HRTM absorption parameters could significantly reduce the uncertainties on lung dose in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Radiological Protection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • epidemiology
  • plutonium dosimetry
  • uncertainties on doses


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