Radiation Effects

The Radiation Epidemiology group carry out high quality research and provide advice on the health effects of ionising and non-ionising radiation which is mainly published in the peer reviewed scientific press. These publications contribute to the evidence base for health protection measures and to strengthen PHE's scientific reputation and the development of health protection services and expert advice.

Description of Core work

The group manages two large epidemiological cohorts owned by PHE:

  • The National Registry for Radiation Workers (NRRW): An epidemiological study established to examine the risks of protracted and low-dose exposures to ionising radiation among radiation workers in the UK. The NRRW was established in 1976 and currently has a cohort of approximately 175,000 workers (Link).

  • The Nuclear weapons test participants study (NWTPS): A long-term follow up study of the health of UK personnel among ~21,000 men who had been involved in UK atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted between 1952 and 1967 in Australia and the South Pacific (Link).

Management of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) Radiation epidemiology research programme

PHE has a contract with the NDA to manage its epidemiological research program (Link). This involves management of a large cohort of ex-BNFL (British Nuclear Fuels Limited) workers and a cohort of United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) workers which were transferred to the NDA following a reorganisation of the nuclear industry. It also involves undertaking a programme of research with the aim of reassuring the NDA workforce that their health is not unacceptably or unduly impacted by their occupational radiation exposure. PHE also provides the conduit through which other researchers may seek permission to use these data for appropriately authorised research.


The group provides training and lecturing in radiation epidemiology. The group maintains an overview of the latest relevant research in the epidemiological and statistical literature, and undertakes peer review of manuscripts on behalf of scientific and medical journals.

Expert advice and support

The group provides advice and support to PHE, government departments & other public health staff on results and applications of radiation epidemiology studies. This includes advice and support to the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) in particular in regard to lifetime radiation risk estimates for cancer and non-cancer diseases.

The group provides training and lecturing in radiation epidemiology. The group maintains an overview of the latest relevant research in the epidemiological and statistical literature, and undertakes peer review of manuscripts on behalf of scientific and medical journals.

Areas for potential collaboration

We are continuously seeking potential collaborations with all research establishments (universities, institutes and government organisations).

We are particularly interested in approaches from groups who have similar epidemiological data from cohort studies which could be pooled with our cohort data to generate larger more statistically powerful data sets to better investigate the effects of radiation exposure on human health. We have considerable experience of this type of collaboration and have successfully overcome both the information governance issues and statistical modelling challenges of such projects.

Radiation Epidemiology Group Publications

  1. Zhang W, Haylock RGE, Gillies M, Hunter N. Mortality from heart diseases following occupational radiation exposure: analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers (NRRW) in the United Kingdom. J Radiol Prot. 2019;39(2):327-53.
  2. Haylock RGE, Gillies M, Hunter N, Zhang W, Phillipson M. Cancer mortality and incidence following external occupational radiation exposure: an update of the 3rd analysis of the UK national registry for radiation workers. Br J Cancer. 2018;119(5):631-7.
  3. Richardson DB, Cardis E, Daniels RD, Gillies M, Haylock R, Leuraud K, et al. Site-specific Solid Cancer Mortality After Exposure to Ionizing Radiation: A Cohort Study of Workers (INWORKS). Epidemiology. 2018;29(1):31-40.
  4. Gillies M, Richardson DB, Cardis E, Daniels RD, O'Hagan JA, Haylock R, et al. Mortality from Circulatory Diseases and other Non-Cancer Outcomes among Nuclear Workers in France, the United Kingdom and the United States (INWORKS). Radiat Res. 2017;188(3):276-90.
  5. Laurier D, Richardson DB, Cardis E, Daniels RD, Gillies M, O'Hagan J, et al. The International Nuclear Workers Study (Inworks): A Collaborative Epidemiological Study to Improve Knowledge About Health Effects of Protracted Low-Dose Exposure. Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2017;173(1-3):21-5.
  6. Gillies M, Kuznetsova I, Sokolnikov M, Haylock R, O'Hagan J, Tsareva Y, et al. Lung Cancer Risk from Plutonium: A Pooled Analysis of the Mayak and Sellafield Worker Cohorts. Radiat Res. 2017;188(6):645-60.
  7. Daniels RD, Bertke SJ, Richardson DB, Cardis E, Gillies M, O'Hagan JA, et al. Examining temporal effects on cancer risk in the international nuclear workers' study. Int J Cancer. 2017;140(6):1260-9.
  8. Letter to the editor: Comment on 'A geographical study of thyroid cancer incidence in north-west England following the Windscale nuclear reactor fire of 1957'. Nezahat Hunter and Richard G E Haylock (2017) J. Radiol.Prot. 37: 551-552. DOI:10.1088/1361-6498/aa5f73, 2017.
  9. Laurent O, Gomolka M, Haylock R, Blanchardon E, Giussani A, Atkinson W, et al. Concerted Uranium Research in Europe (CURE): toward a collaborative project integrating dosimetry, epidemiology and radiobiology to study the effects of occupational uranium exposure. J Radiol Prot. 2016;36(2):319-45.
  10. Relationship between erythema effective UV radiant exposure, total ozone and cloud cover in southern England UK: 1991-2015 Nezahat Hunter, Rebecca. J. Hooke, Michael P. Higlett, John B. O'Hagan and Richard G.E. Haylock (2019) Atmos. Chem. Phys.19, 683-699 doi.org/10.5194/acp-19-683, 2019.
  11. Long term variations in erythema effective solar UV at Chilton, UK, from 1991 to 2015. Hooke RJ, Higlett MP, Hunter N and O'Hagan JB, (2017) Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, 16, 1596-1603 doi: 10.1039/C7PP00053G, 2017.
  12. Letter to the editor: Comment on 'A geographical study of thyroid cancer incidence in north-west England following the Windscale nuclear reactor fire of 1957'. Nezahat Hunter and Richard G E Haylock (2017) J. Radiol.Prot. 37: 551-552. DOI:10.1088/1361-6498/aa5f73, 2017.
  13. Radiation Risks of Leukemia, Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma Incidence in the Mayak Cohort: 1948-2004. Kuznetsova IS, Labutina EV, Hunter N. (2016) PLoS One, 15;11(9): e0162710. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162710, 2016.
  14. Cancer mortality and incidence following external occupational radiation exposure: an update of the 3rd analysis of the UK national registry for radiation workers. Br J Cancer. 2018 Aug;119(5):631-637. doi: 10.1038/s41416-018-0184-9. Epub 2018 Aug 15.
  15. Radiation risk models for all solid cancers other than those types of cancer requiring individual assessments after a nuclear accident. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics. 2016, Volume 55, Number 1, Page 9 Linda Walsh, Wei Zhang
  16. Thyroid Cancer Among Young People in Fukushima. Wakeford, Richard; Auvinen, Anssi; Gent, R. Nick; Jacob, Peter; Kesminiene, Ausrele; Laurier, Dominique; Schüz, Joachim; Shore, Roy; Walsh, Linda; Zhang, Wei. Epidemiology. 27(3):e20-e21, MAY 2016,doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000466
  17. Puncher, Matthew & Zhang, Wei & D Harrison, J & Wakeford, Richard. (2017). Assessing the reliability of dose coefficients for exposure to radioiodine by members of the public, accounting for dosimetric and risk model uncertainties. Journal of Radiological Protection. 37. 506-526. 10.1088/1361-6498/aa6a68.
  18. G. E. Haylock, Richard & Gillies, Michael & Hunter, Nezahat & Zhang, Wei & Phillipson, Mary. (2018). Cancer mortality and incidence following external occupational radiation exposure: an update of the 3rd analysis of the UK national registry for radiation workers. British Journal of Cancer. 119. 10.1038/s41416-018-0184-9.
  19. Zhang, Wei & G E Haylock, Richard & Gillies, Michael & Hunter, Nezahat. (2019). Mortality from heart diseases following occupational radiation exposure: Analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers (NRRW) in the United Kingdom. Journal of Radiological Protection. 39. 327-353. 10.1088/1361-6498/ab02b2.
  20. Cléro, Enora & Vaillant, Ludovic & Hamada, Nobuyuki & Zhang, Wei & L. Preston, Dale & Laurier, Dominique & Ban, Nobuhiko. (2019). History of radiation detriment and its calculation methodology used in ICRP Publication 103. Journal of Radiological Protection. 39. 10.1088/1361-6498/ab294a.
  21. Mortality and cancer incidence following occupational radiation exposure: 3rd analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers. Muirhead CR, O'Hagan JA, Haylock RGE, Phillipson MA, Willcock T, Berridge GLC and Zhang W. British Journal of Cancer, 100, 206 to 212 (2009).
  22. Third Analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers: Occupational Exposure to Ionising Radiation in Relation to Mortality and Cancer Incidence. Muirhead CR, O'Hagan JA, Haylock RGE, Phillipson MA, Willcock T, Berridge GLC and Zhang W. Chilton, HPA-RPD-062 (2009).
  23. Mortality and occupational exposure to radiation: first analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers. Kendall GM, Muirhead CR, MacGibbon BH, O'Hagan JA, Conquest AJ, Goodill AA, Butland BK, Fell TP, Jackson DA, Webb MA, Haylock RGE, Thomas JM and Silk TJ. British Medical Journal, 304, 220 to 225 (1992).
  24. First analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers: occupational exposure to ionising radiation and mortality. Kendall GM, Muirhead CR, MacGibbon BH, O'Hagan JA, Conquest AJ, Goodill AA, Butland BK, Fell TP, Jackson DA, Webb MA, Haylock RGE, Thomas JM and Silk TJ. Chilton, NRPB-R251 (London, HMSO) (1992).
  25. Occupational radiation exposure and mortality: second analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers. Muirhead CR, Goodill AA, Haylock RGE, Vokes J, Little MP, Jackson DA, O'Hagan JA, Thomas JM, Kendall GM, Silk TJ, Bingham D and Berridge GLC. Journal of Radiological Protection, 19, 3 to 26 (1999).
  26. Second Analysis of the National Registry for Radiation Workers: Occupational Exposure to Ionising Radiation and Mortality. Muirhead CR, Goodill AA, Haylock RGE, Vokes J, Little MP, Jackson DA, O'Hagan JA, Thomas JM, Kendall GM, Silk TJ, Bingham D and Berridge GLC. Chilton, NRPB-R307 (1999).