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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Radioactive cloud detected in France and large parts of Europe

A CLOUD of radioactive gas has been detected over France and large parts of Europe but the French nuclear watchdog IRSN and the International Atomic Energy Agency say there is no public health risk.

The gas - iodine-131 - was first officially revealed to have been detected in the Czech Republic last week and also in Sweden, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany and Austria. It is thought to have been spreading for about two weeks.

However, the IAEA said the atmospheric pollution was not caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in March in Japan. Iodine-131 is a short-lived radioactive isotope that has a half-life of about eight days and - with the prevailing winds across Japan carrying any airborne pollution across the Pacific towards the US - it would have all but vanished by the time it reached Europe.

However, much of the radiation released by Fukushima was Iodine-131 and it is linked to increased thyroid problems.

France's Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire also said the levels of radioactivity were too low to cause any risk to the public.

The IAEA said to The Connexion: "The levels of iodine-131 currently being detected are extremely low. If a person of any age were to breathe in iodine at the current levels for a whole year, then they would receive a dose of less than 0.1 microsieverts for the year. To put this into perspective, the average annual background radiation is 2400 microsieverts for the year." Read More