Radiation monitoring in Ireland

Monitoring and sampling

Radiation monitoring in Europe

The EPA carries out rigorous and continuous testing ensuring environmental radiation remains within internationally agreed and legal safety limits. This testing ensures the EPA are quickly made aware of changes in environmental radiation in Ireland and can provide you with health warnings and protection advice if necessary.

Radiation doses resulting from artificial radioactivity are small compared with those received due to natural radiation and do not constitute a significant health risk.

Monitoring and sampling

Key elements of the EPA radiation monitoring programme are:

  • to assess levels of radionuclides in the environment to which the Irish population is exposed.
  • to study trends and establish the geographical distribution of artificial radionuclides and to improve our understanding of the long-term behaviour of these contaminants in the food chain and in the environment.
  • to support the Irish food and agriculture industry through rigorous assessment of radionuclides in Irish foodstuffs.
  • to maintain systems, procedures and expertise necessary, ensuring increases in radiation levels resulting from a nuclear emergency or radiological incident in Ireland are detected and assessed rapidly
  • to support evidence-based information and advice on radiation levels in the environment to Government and the public; and
  • to comply with statutory and international obligations concerning environmental monitoring and individual and population dose assessment.

The programme combines 24-hour measurements from the permanent monitoring network and a programme of sampling followed by laboratory testing. The EPA take and test around 2000 samples every year. Most samples are taken from  throughout Ireland. Fish and shellfish are collected from the main fishing ports. This provides a baseline and enables a quick comparison of measurements to identify elevated radiation levels.

Results of the monitoring programme can be seen in our latest report Radioactivity Monitoring of the Irish Environment.

Radiation monitoring in Europe

Similar routine sampling and testing of the environment is carried out in every EU country. The results are compiled and are available to view online in the Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring (REMdB).

In addition, gamma dose rate data from our permanent monitoring network is transferred to a European Commission database. Similar data from all EU countries is collated and can be viewed here.

Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty requires Member States to establish facilities necessary for continuous monitoring of radioactivity levels in the air, water and soil ensuring compliance with the Basic Safety Standards.  Further stipulations include... “The Commission having the right of access to facilities; it may verify their operation and efficiency.”  In accordance with Article 35, the Commission carries out a programme of Verification visits in Member States.  The main purpose of such visits is to provide an independent assessment of the adequacy of monitoring facilities for environmental radioactivity.

A report of the Commission's most recent Verification visit to Ireland can be found on the  European Commissions website.