Navigation and service

Ionising radiation

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

Ionisierende Strahlung


The term "legacy" in connection with enhanced natural radioactivity has so far not been defined in the legal sense. Therefore, the term "relic" will be used here. In the following an overview is given on the problem and the categories of relics from mining, industry and uranium ore mining. Please, find more detailed information on the Expert Info pages.

Waste Rock in Ex-GDR

Enhanced natural environmental radioactivity by human impact

Natural radiation exposure is essentially caused by radionuclides which occur in the uranium-238, uranium-235 and thorium-232 decay chains and are found in the earth’s crust. Higher concentrations of these radionuclides (compared to the geogenic level) can be released into the environment in particular through mining activities but also through the processing of raw materials. While radiation protection is ensured from the start for industrial residues since 2001 on the basis of the Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV), radiation protection measures for contaminations which have already occurred can only be taken subsequently.

The FachInfothek

The "FachInfothek" (compilation of technical information) is a compilation of in-depth information on the topic "Enhanced natural environmental radioactivity by human impact". The major part of the information can be downloaded. Links enable access to further information from other sources, for whose accuracy BfS does not assume responsibility, however.

Industrial relics with enhanced natural radioactivity

The intense industrial development in many parts of Germany since the middle of the 19th century also entailed uses of a number of raw materials containing enhanced amounts of uranium and thorium (for example bauxite, phosphorite). A variety of residues was produced which were, however, not further used at the time.

© Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz