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Artificial radiation


Radioactivity monitoring network of the BSH

Artificial radiation, i.e. radiation caused by human activities, adds to the naturally occurring radiation. In the Federal Republic of Germany, it is on average 1.50 mSv per year, about 95% of which is attributable to medical x-rays, nuclear medicine, and radiation therapy. The remainder is due to nuclear facilities (0.01 mSv), research activities, technical and household applications (0.01 mSv), the Chernobyl accident (0.02 mSv), and to fallout from nuclear weapons testing (0.01 mSv).

The BSH (DHI until 1990) has carried out measurements of artificial radioactivity in the marine environment since 1961. In the 1950s and 60s, primarily the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests led to global contamination. Discharges of artificial radionuclides into the North Sea from the nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in La Hague (France) and Sellafield (Great Britain) reached a maximum in the 70s. The reactor accident at Chernobyl in 1986 released artificial radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere which were transported over thousands of kilometers, contaminating large areas by radioactive rainfalls. The fallout consisted mainly of radioactive iodine and caesium, but also included strontium, molybdenum, barium, and the little known ruthenium. Because of its high percentage in the total spectrum of specific Chernobyl nuclides and its longevity, the isotope caesium-137 can be used as a radionuclide tracer.

In the Western European countries, the radiation exposure attributable to the Chernobyl accident meanwhile has decreased to negligible levels. Their contribution to the total radiation exposure is only 0.02 mSv per year. However, in some areas near Chernobyl in the Ukraine, the absorbed dose rate still is so high that those areas are considered uninhabitable.

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What is radioactivity?


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If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Dr. Jürgen Herrmann or phone +49 40 3190 - 3325


More information on the subject:
MARNET monitoring system

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 © 2016 Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie Last Update: Apr 19, 2013 6:01:23 PM  
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