According to a report issued by the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, trace amounts of Iodine-131 were detected in “ground-level” atmosphere in Europe. The radioactive chemical has a half-life of merely eight days, which means that the chemical would have to have been released recently.
The measurements were found about 200 meters away from Norway’s border and then in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. Two weeks later, around the end of the month, other measurements were taken which found small amounts in Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain.
While the chemical was first discovered around Norway, France made the first official report regarding the discovery.
“Iodine-131 a radionuclide of anthropogenic origin has recently been detected in tiny amounts in the ground-level atmosphere in Europe. The preliminary report states it was first found during week 2 of January 2017 in northern Norway. Iodine-131 was also detected in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain, until the end of January”, the official French Institute de Radioprotection et de Süreté Nucléaire (IRSN) wrote in a press release.
Unfortunately, as of now, the source of the radioactivity is unknown. Thankfully, however, officials report that there are no health concerns that have been caused by the finding. Astrid Liland told the Barents Observer that,
“We do measure small amounts of radioactivity in air from time to time because we have very sensitive measuring equipment. The measurements at Svanhovd in January were very, very low. So were the measurements made in neighboring countries, like Finland. The levels raise no concern for humans or the environment. Therefore, we believe this had no news value,”Astrid Liland answers when asked why the public was not informed.
The levels detected at Svanhovd on January 9-16 depict levels of 0,5 micro Becquerel per cubic meter. In France, the levels detected were much lower, from 0,1 to 0,31. The levels that had been detected in Finland were lower than those found in Norway with 0,27.
When discussing possible sources of the radioactive activity, Astrid Liland said,
“It was rough weather in the period when the measurements were made, so we can’t trace the release back to a particular location. Measurements from several places in Europe might indicate it comes from Eastern Europe,” Liland explains.
“Increased levels of radioactive iodine in air were made in northern-Norway, northern-Finland, and Poland in week two, and in other European countries the following two weeks, Astrid Liland says.
However, the chemical could have come from yet another nuclear reactor due to the isotope being used widely for medicine, which places it in high demand. If the chemical did, in fact, originate from a nuclear reactor, the factory that it came from would have a detector in place for such a leak. Therefore, somebody may actually know the source of the radiation. Unfortunately, it could have originated from a number of nations, as nuclear vessels can be found throughout the region.