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Environmental Radioactivity

Working Group 6.12


The Working Group has two fields of work: Preservation of the unit of activity in the range from 1 mBq to 1 kBq, which is the relevant range of activities in environmental samples and the operation of one trace survey station of the in total 14 German trace survey stations for monitoring radioactive substances in ground-level air.

According to the German Radiation Protection Act, the measurements are performed for the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) and, to some extent, are also forwarded to the European Commission in the framework of reporting in accordance to the EURATOM treaty.

Preservation of the unit “Bequerel” is accomplished by use of secondary activity standard measurement devices like alpha- or gammaspectrometers and beta-particle counters. The Working Group participates in national and international characterisations of reference materials for the purpose of quality assurance of environmental “radioactivity” measurements.

Prior to the radiometric measurements of alpha- or beta particle emitting radionuclides, complex radiochemical separation and purification procedures are necessary for radioelements like strontium, thorium, uranium or plutonium to be determined in environmental samples (for example water, soil, sediment), food stuff, industry products or residual materials. For that, in addition to low-level measurement instruments, the Working Group operates a low-level radiochemistry laboratory for processing environmental samples.

The participation in bodies and committees covers national and international working groups dealing with reliable measurements of radioactive substances in the environment and in the German working group of the coordinating offices (Leitstellen) for monitoring environmental “radioactivity”.

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  • Entwicklung und Optimierung radiochemischer Trenn- und Reinigungsverfahren sowie Aufbau massenspektrometrischer Messverfahren zur Bestimmung radioaktiver Stoffe in Umweltproben-Referenzmaterialien

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Alpha-spectrometry measurement set-up
Fig.: Alpha-spectrometry measurement set-up.

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