According to documents the State Office for Nuclear Safety of the Czech Republic forwarded to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), higher-than normal levels of radioactive iodine isotopes have been detected over the European nation.
Scientists in the Czech Republic say that they began recording low levels of iodine - 133 several days ago, and that the phenomenon does not appear to be subsiding in intensity. They also report that no clear source for the radiations has yet been discovered.
Over recent days, Austria and Hungary also reported similar readings. Researchers in these countries are equally baffled about the potential origins of such radiations, but they relayed whatever information they had to the IAEA.
The international agency – which is based in Vienna, Austria – says that there is no reason to suspect that these radiations are harmful to humans in any way. Experts say that people flying across the Atlantic are subjected to 40,000 times more radiations.
At the same time, it's worthy to note here that IAEA officials are positive the radioactive isotopes were not produced by the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, in Japan. The installation was severely affected during a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that affected the country on March 11, 2011.
Four reactors suffered extensive damages, and a considerable amount of radioactive material made its way into the Pacific Ocean. For months, people have been living in fear that these dangerous particles might make their way to Europe or the United States, hence the scare.
However, IAEA assures people that this is not the case. However, the announcement solves a problem but generates another, since experts have no idea what may be causing these radiations. Usually, iodine-133 is produced by nuclear accidents.
Another possibility is that a facility producing radioactive isotopes for medical research and treatment is damaged, and leaking some byproducts into the atmosphere. The particles were thus far detected exclusively above central Europe.
One of the things scientists will be especially interested in over the following days is detecting whether the isotopes will spread to other locations, or whether additional readings will be made in unrelated, faraway regions.
Physicists say that iodine-133 is a rather harmless isotope in terms of half-life, since it tends to decay in about 8 days. However, elevated concentrations can certainly be lethal to humans, though that is not the case here.