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Ionising radiation

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

Ionisierende Strahlung

The Coordinating Offices for the monitoring of radioacitive substances in the environment

  • Radioactive substances in the environment are monitored by the federals states (Bundesländer and by federal authorities.
  • In this context, Coordinating Offices have been established being responsible for the monitoring of specific environmental media.
  • The tasks of the Coordinating Offices are laid down in the Precautionary Radiation Protection Act (StrVG) and in the Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV).

Legal foundations

  • EURATOM Treaty Art. 35
  • The Precautionary Radiation Protection Act (StrVG)
  • General Administrative Regulation on the Integrated Measurement and Information System for the Monitoring of Environmental Radioactivity (AVV-IMIS)
  • Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV)
  • Guideline on the Emission and Immission Monitoring of Nuclear Facilities (REI)

Monitoring of the exposure of man and environment to radioactivity was required as a result of the radioactive fallout from the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s and 1960s. On account of the commitments under Article 35 of the EURATOM Treaty of 1957 and the large-scale industrial use of nuclear energy for energy production, the monitoring was extended and legally regulated.

Environmental radioactivity is monitored by the Länder and by federal institutions.

Coordinating Offices: Federal institutions

At the same time as official monitoring, Coordinating Offices were established that are responsible for certain environmental media. These Coordinating Offices have been established at

  • The Federal Office for Radiation Protection,
  • The German Meteorological Service,
  • The Federal Institute of Hydrology,
  • The Max-Rubner-Institute,
  • The Federal Office for Navigation and Hydrography,
  • The Thünen-Institute.

The tasks

The tasks of the Coordinating Offices are laid down in the Precautionary Radiation Protection Act (StrVG) and in the Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV).

They comprise, among others:

  • Review of the data measured in the context of environmental monitoring (AVV-IMIS) pursuant to StrVG and in the context of emission and immission monitoring (REI) pursuant to StrlSchV. Data generators are, among others, the official measuring institutions of the federal states (Bundeländer), federal institutions as well as the independent measuring institutions for the monitoring of nuclear facilities, and the operators of nuclear facilities,
  • Summary and documentation of the data from environmental monitoring pursuant to StrVG as well as of emission and immission monitoring,
  • Review, further development and documentation of sampling and analysis methods (measuring instructions),
  • Comparative analyses for external quality assurance (interlaboratory comparisons),
  • Advice to the competent federal ministries and ministries of the federals states (Bundesländer) on technical issues.

The BfS acts as Coordinating Office in the following areas:

The BfS Coordinating Offices
Coordinating Office Legal foundation Remarks
Coordinating Office for ground surfaces (in situ gammaspectrometry), local dose and local dose rate (ODL)StrVG, AVV-IMIS, StrlSchV, REIGDR measuring network
Coordinating Office for trace analysisStrVG, AVV-IMISTrace analysis of radioactive noble gases (krypton, xenon) and air-dust bound radionuclides
Coordinating Office for drinking water, groundwater, waste water, sewage sludge, waste and waste water from nuclear facilitiesStrVG, AVV-IMIS, StrlSchV, REI
Coordinating Office for pharmaceutical drugs and their basic materials as well as consumer goodsStrVG
Coordinating Office for exhaust air from nuclear facilitiesStrlSchV, REI
Coordinating Office for issues relating to monitoring of environmental radioactivity in case of enhanced natural radioactivity (ENORM)StrVG, StrlSchVNatural radioactivity in environmental media such as soils, building materials as well as industrial residues (e.g. in the production of natural gas)

Quality assurance of measurement results through the Coordinating Offices

The Coordinating Offices check the plausibility of the measurement results and ensure the quality of the data. Correct measurement results are a key prerequisite in order to be able to properly assess possible radiological consequences in case of a nuclear event and to take the proper measures for the protection of the population.

The Coordinating Offices

  • Develop the sampling and analysis methods to be applied,
  • Check the plausibility of the data,
  • Carry out quality assurance measures,
  • Process the available data, and
  • Report to decision-making authorities.

Interlaboratory comparisons as external quality control

On a regular basis, the Coordinating Offices organise interlaboratory comparisons for external quality control. For this purpose, the responsible Coordinating Office sends standardised samples of known composition (reference values) to the institutions taking part. The samples are analysed by the participants using the methods they apply generally.

Results: Comparison provides information about quality of analysis and evaluation methods

In expert talks and workshops, the methods and processes applied as well as the results of interlaboratory comparisons are discussed with the participants. If required, the respective Coordinating Office supports an institution taking part in the introduction of new measurement or analysis method.

International cooperation

The cooperation of the BfS in international working groups serves

  • To exchange experiences,
  • To harmonise analysis and measuring methods in the international context,
  • To ensure the quality of the available data.

In the case of the Fukushima accident, international cooperation has emphasised the importance of quality-ensured data also at international level. With the help of the international measurement network of the CTBTO, both the migration of the radioactivity released and its reduction during the distribution in the atmosphere could be observed precisely. This way, the decision-makers got reliable prognoses of radiological consequences in their country early on – an important prerequisite to make decisions about possible national safeguard measures.

State of 2017.01.23

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