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Mysterious spike in radioactive particles across Europe baffles scientists
Germany’s Office for Radiation Protection reported increased radioactivity in parts of Central and Western Europe over the last week. The heightened levels were detected at several trace measuring stations in Europe, and at six locations in Germany.
The particles are ruthenium-106, an isotope used in cancer radiation therapy for eye tumors and at times in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) which provide power to satellites. An increase of ruthenium-106 has been detected in the air in Austria, France, Germany,
The particles are ruthenium-106, an isotope used in cancer radiation therapy for eye tumors and at times in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) which provide power to satellites. An increase of ruthenium-106 has been detected in the air in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
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While officials say there’s no need to panic, they don’t know where the material has come from. The elevated radiation levels don’t present a threat to human health.
“New analyzes of the source of the radioactive material are likely to indicate a release in the southern Ural,” the Office for Radiation Protection said, “but other regions in Southern Russia can not be excluded.”
It said that because it’s only ruthenium-106 that has been detected, this rules out a nuclear power plant accident.
Similar spikes in radioactive particles have occurred across Europe in the past, but they are rare.
In February, trace amounts of radioactive Iodine-131 were detected across parts of Europe. The iodine faded, and the source of the radioactivity wasn’t identified, Motherboard reports.
France’s IRSN institute announced the trace amounts were detected over Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, France and Spain.