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Radiation safety watchdog detects airborne radioactive particles, says no cause for alarm

The Radiation Safety Authority STUK says it has found low levels of radioactive material in air samples taken in Kotka in southeast Finland and Sodankylä in the north. The agency says there’s no cause for alarm as the concentrations are so minute that they pose no danger to people.

STUK -kyltti säteilyturvakeskuksen seinässä.
Image: Yle

According to the radiation safety watchdog STUK, the levels of radioactive material found in local air samples are so low, they don’t pose any risk.

The substances were detected in aerosol samples taken at Kotka’s air radioactivity monitoring station one week ago. Officials identified them as artificial radioactive materials.

Much further north, in Sodankylä in Finnish Lapland, air samples revealed the presence of iodine 131 or radioiodine, most often associated with nuclear activity, medical diagnostic and treatment procedures and natural gas production.

STUK said that the two separate findings did not necessarily indicate any link to the same emission source.

Officials in Norway also reported similar findings of iodine 131.

Cobalt, niobium and caesium

STUK also said that the airborne particles found detected in Kotka were cobalt 60, niobium 95, and caesium 134 – all associated with nuclear processes.

Measurements showed however that the levels detected were less than one-millionth Becquerel per cubic metre of air.

STUK said that it would continue investigations into the possible source or sources of the radioactive materials. It noted that it had been in touch with radiation safety officials in neighbouring countries on the matter.

The agency added that the samples were collected between May 4 and 11, when air currents drifted into Finland from many different directions.

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