The radioactive particles have been floating all across Europe since January and experts have not been able to identify the source, yet.
In the second week of January, some traces of Iodine-131 were found in Northern Norway. Since then, the particles have moved all across Europe including Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain. The air filter station at Svanhovd first made the observation, that is located just a hundred meters away from Norway-Russia border to Kola Peninsula.
Iodine-131 is not a naturally-occurring radioactive material. Usually, it is found along with other radioactive materials, but this time it is alone. The authorities have been unable to identify the source of the radioactive material since January and, its presence was not announced until a few days ago. Initiating with Norway, the spread was made public by Finland and France.
The US deployed special ‘nuclear sniffer,’ WC-135 W planes to fly over Europe and isolate the material but they have failed. The Iodine-131 has a very short half-life, and the presence of such a significant amount of this material shows that the leak is very recent.
The material is associated closely with atomic bombs and after the first ones had been tested; Iodine-131 was found all around the world. It was also found abundantly after the accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plants.
Nuclear power plants are not the only ones to use Iodine-131 as the material is also used in the radioactive treatment of cancer and other diseases. As in the current situation, the Iodine-131 is not accompanied by other materials; it is evident that it was isolated for some purpose. While the purpose has not been identified yet, there is a high chance that it came from a pharmaceutical company that failed to report the leak to the authorities.
The Institute de Radioprotection et de Süreté Nucléaire (IRSN) (Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety) has said in a press release that the released radioactive material Iodine-131 poses “no health concerns.”
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