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Ionising radiation

Environmental Radioactivity - Medicine - Occupational Radiation Protection - Nuclear Hazards Defence

Ionisierende Strahlung

Measuring networks

In consequence of the reactor accident in Chernobyl, a nationwide measuring system was established in Germany to measure the environmental radioactivity. The reactor accident of Chernobyl in 1986 showed that the preparations for the event of a large-area contamination of the environment were far from being sufficient. Radioactivity measurements in the environment had not been carried out systematically and had not been co-ordinated. The dose estimations and the exchange of data among the institutions had not been planned in advance and, as a result, were time-consuming. A comprehensive presentation of results was done only unsystematically. This contributed to politicians evaluating the situation differently and led to considerable feelings of insecurity in the population.

The Precautionary Radiation Protection Act (Strahlenschutzvorsorgegesetz, in German only) was created and has since provided for the continuous monitoring of radioactive substances in the environment based on binding measuring programmes.

Organisational structure

Integrated Measuring and Information System (IMIS)

Measuring networks that operate continuously are equipped for monitoring radioactivity on the ground, in the atmosphere, in the federal waterways and in the North and Baltic Seas. Moreover during routine operation, more than 10.000 individual measurements are performed each year all over Germany, in air, water, soil, food and animal feed. More than 60 German Federal and State laboratories participate in this routine measuring program.

Funktionsweise der Lagedarstellung


All measuring and prognosis results are collected in the Central Federal Agency for the Surveillance of radioactivity in Neuherberg. There, the results are evaluated with the help of the co-ordinating offices, presented and commented in graphics and tables. The Integrated Measuring and Information System (IMIS) connects approximately 70 institutions (Laender ministries and authorities, measuring institutions et cetera), respectively about 200 clients, with each other.

Deutschlandkarte mit Ausbreitung radioaktiver Wolke

Emergency measuring strategies

To characterise the current radiological situation, comprehensive measurements according to the intensive measurement programme are instantly performed in emergency situations. The most important tools during the passing of a radioactive cloud are the automatic monitoring networks of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (used to assess the external radiation exposure (ambient dose rate)) and German Weather Service (DWD; used to determine the nuclide-specific radionuclide concentration in the air).

View of the BfS Schauinsland measuring station

Monitoring station Schauinsland: history and tasksmission

1946, a group of scientists from the Institute of Physics of the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg began to conduct experiments to characteris the cosmic radiation on Mt Schauinsland in the Black Forest. 1953, the researchers for the first time succeeded in detecting fallout from nuclear weapons tests in precipitation samples. As a result, a permanent monitoring station was built on Mt Schauinsland for the continuous long-term monitoring of the atmosphere for artificial and natural radioactivity. In 1957 the station began operation. Today the station is also part of the International Monitoring System (IMIS) for the verification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) adopted by the UN.

© Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz