Radiation

IAEA searching for source of mysterious iodine-131 radiation detected across Europe

Somewhere in Europe, something radioactive is leaking trace amounts of iodine-131 into the atmosphere. And although the levels are not enough to be dangerous, officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are keen to locate the source of the leak and plug it.

Three weeks ago, Austrian authorities were the first to notice the iodine-131. Their findings were confirmed a week later by the Czech Republic’s State Office for Nuclear Safety. A number of other European nations have also detected the leak in the atmosphere. But so far, it’s unclear where it’s coming from.

A study of the dispersal cloud has found that it is most likely coming from southeastern Europe, but the IAEA is still not sure of the exact source. The leak is believed to have occurred over a number of days and could be ongoing. And since iodine-131 is used not only at nuclear plants but also in hospitals, there are many sites that could be responsible.

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