Detection of radioactive contamination in air samples with concentrations below radiological concern

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On October 2nd ISPRA has been notified by the Regional Environmental Protection Agency of Lombardia Region about the detection of traces of Ruthenium-106 (about 3 milliBq/m3) in air samples collected in Milan and Bergamo. No other artificial radionuclides have been detected. Ruthenium -106 is a radioisotope with a decay time of 373,6 days used in medical applications. As result of these notification ISPRA has informed all the laboratories of the national network for the monitoring of the environmental radioactivity requesting to report about any detected abnormal value.

The data received until now indicate that traces of Ruthenium -106 have been also detected in Friuli Venezia Giulia Region (up to 50 milliBq/m3), Umbria Region (up to 6.5 milliBq/m3) and confirmed by subsequent measurements in Lombardia (up to 9  milliBq/m3 ).

ISPRA has informed the National Department of Civil Protection.

At international level ISPRA has informed the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and requested information on similar detections in other countries and on the location of the possible source. The AIEA has confirmed to have received similar notifications from other European countries. Exchange of information are also in progress with IRSN, the French Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire.

The measured activity concentrations are below radiological concern. They however indicate the presence of abnormal activity concentrations for which there is the need to identify the source.

ISPRA is continuing to follow the event.