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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. After a transitional period it will be replaced by the Radiation Protection Act (StrlSchG, in German only) which entered into force in July 2017.

Organisational structure

The Integrated Measuring and Information System (IMIS)

The task of IMIS is to continuously monitor the environment and thus be able to detect small changes in environmental radioactivity in a fast and reliable manner, as well as to recognize long-ranging trends. All results are merged, evaluated, refined and presented in well-arranged documents.

All radionuclide measurement stations of CTBTO are recorded on the world mapSource: CTBTO (

Trace analysis worldwide

The international Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has a worldwide network. Once fully completed it consists of 80 radionuclide measurement stations for detection of radionuclides bound to airborne dust. In addition 40 of these stations are equipped with systems for the measurement of radioactive xenon (xenon-133).

One of these radionuclide measurement stations is operated by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) on Mt Schauinsland near Freiburg im Breisgau.

Map of the world

International measuring networks

Within the European Union, the member states have committed themselves to continuously monitoring environmental radioactivity. At the international level, also the CTBT measuring network for the monitoring of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty provides worldwide data on environmental radioactivity.

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