Scientists have recorded a SPIKE in dangerous levels of radioactive chemicals across Europe. Air station across the ‘old continent’ have detected traces of radioactive Iodine-131 last month, but scientists still have no clue where the particles are coming from. the U.S Air Force deployed the WC-135 Nuclear Sniffer Aircraft to the UK to investigate.
Traces of Idodine-131—which plays a major role as a radioactive isotope present in nuclear fission products, and was a significant contributor to the health hazards from open-air atomic bomb testing in the 1950s— were first recorded in Norway and have so far been found in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain.
Particles of Iodine-131 are produced by atomic bomb explosions or nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl or Fukushima. The radioactive particles seem to be entering Europe from Eastern Europe, however, experts are unable to trace them back to their exact source, nor do they know what caused them.
Speaking to the Barents Observer, Astrid Liland, head of emergency preparedness at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority said that healthy risks were extremely low, which is why experts did not raise alarms after detecting particles of Iodine-131 during the second week of January.
“We do measure small amounts of radioactivity in air from time to time because we have very sensitive measuring equipment,” she said.
“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.”
However, just as other experts, Liland was unable to say where the particles were coming from.
There are a couple of options as to where the particles are coming from.
Experts say that the radioactive particles may have been released by accident by ‘an unknown nuclear reactor’, or a medical facility. Experts also say it’s possible that the particles were released by Russian Nuclear Submarines.
Interestingly, on February 17, the U.S Air Force deployed the WC-135 Nuclear Sniffer Aircraft to the UK to investigate the radioactive particles. The WC-135, known as the “sniffer” or “weather bird” by its crews, can carry up to 33 personnel. However, crew compliments are kept to a minimum during mission flights in order to lessen levels of radioactive exposure.