Information about source points of anthropogenic radioactivity

A Freedom of Nuclear Information Resource

An information resource for persons interested in the public safety consequences and radioecological impact of nuclear accidents and industries

Responses welcome:
FAX (207) 288-2725
or write to:
Center for Biological Monitoring 
Box 144
Hulls Cove, ME 04644
(207) 288-5126 

Website users can greatly assist the Center for Biological Monitoring by making a donation of 10 cents per page of information printed from the RADNET website.  Please mail your donations to our sponsor
The Davistown Museum, Box 144, Hulls Cove, ME 04664
Or see our fundraising information.  Thank you!

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| Index | Introduction | Guide | Accidents | Definitions | Radionuclides | Protection Guidelines | Plumes | Baseline Data | Dietary Intake | Chernobyl | Source Points | Maine Yankee | Links | Bibliography | Alerts | Sponsor |

SECTION 1: General Introduction

RADNET is an on-line encyclopedia of nuclear information and information sources. The purpose of RADNET is the documentation of the dispersion of anthropogenic radionuclides into the biosphere. "Anthropogenic radionuclides" specifically refers to radioactive contamination of the biosphere by human activities, with special reference to weapons production and commercial nuclear electricity production that result in the accumulation and dispersion of long-lived radionuclides.

This Website uses the indicator radionuclides131I, 137Cs and 239Pu to document radioactive contamination of the biosphere from anthropogenic source points. While RADNET focuses on contamination resulting from the nuclear fuel cycle in both weapons and nuclear electricity production, it also references exposure from nuclear medicine, x-rays and commercial products in the context of exposure to naturally occurring radiation (NOR) from radon and cosmogenic and terrestrial sources. Additional information on these topics and on the health physics impact of exposure to ionizing radiation is available via the electronic links in RADNET Section 13: Part 2-C or through the many references listed within RADNET, especially in Section 14: General Bibliography. With reference to the health physics impact of ionizing radiation, please see the caveat below.

RADNET has two premises. The first premise is that not only have a number of nuclear accidents occurred (each nuclear weapons test explosion is a documentable nuclear accident), but that these accidents (Chernobyl, the sum total of weapons testing explosions, commercial nuclear power source points, fuel reprocessing source points etc.) are nuclear accidents in progress (uncontained dispersion of anthropogenic radioactivity) or nuclear accidents waiting to happen (contained anthropogenic radioactivity with the potential for dispersion into the biosphere). The citizens of the 20th century have bequeathed to those in the 3rd millennium the presence and proliferation of thousands of significant anthropogenic radiation source points.

The second premise of RADNET is that any credible evaluation of the biological effects of the spread of anthropogenic radioactivity in the biosphere in the second half of the twentieth century must be based on nuclide-specific, media-specific pathway analyses.  The lack of accurate biological monitoring data about long-lived radionuclides in specific ecosystems is the Achilles heel of contemporary radiation dosimetry and its concomitant attempt to estimate the delayed somatic effects (genetic, teratogenic, carcinogenic) of anthropogenic radioactivity. RADNET is an attempt to collate as much of this data as is available in one easy-to-use reference guide available electronically or for downloading in hard copy. Without accurate data about specific isotopes in specific pathways, the dosimetry of total effective dose equivalents is an unpersuasive academic exercise. The editors of RADNET hope that the information within this Internet site can be used by laypersons seeking a frame of reference for interpreting the quantitative presence and the health physics impact of those nuclear effluents which also have significant quality-of-life implications.


RADNET is an information resource about source points and quantities of anthropogenic radioactivity in the biosphere. It is not a resource about the health effects of ionizing radiation from anthropogenic sources or from natural sources. Hundreds of thousands of studies in books now document the public health effects from ionizing radiation from all sources. For further information on this subject, please refer to Section 2: A Guide to RADNET (see health physics questions), as well as to RADNET Section 13: Part 2-C: Health Physics Links.

RADNET readers please refer to the table of contents on our home page for links to the 16 sections of RADNET. RADNET is the compilation, citation and annotation (if possible) of the publications of those government entities (IAEA, Riso National Laboratory, DOE, etc.) and private information sources (environmental organizations, private research institutes) which document the growing presence of anthropogenic radioactivity in the biosphere. Such nuclear information sources include those providing baseline data, radiation protection guidelines, pathway information, and documentation of nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl and the major plume source points which will be of interest to citizens in the third millennium. RADNET also includes the citation and review of reports pertaining to the safe operation, or lack thereof, of nuclear facilities, including nuclear power stations, which may lead to the future dispersion of anthropogenic radioactivity.

Nuclear information sources listed on the World Wide Web now exceed 20,000 sites. Section 13 of RADNET (RADLINKS) is an attempt to provide links to the most important nuclear information sources that might provide additional information about ionizing radiation from anthropogenic sources. RADNET uses the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station as a case study of a commercial nuclear power source point (RADNET Section 12) and includes discussion of all the accompanying controversies, safety problems, costs, risks and decommissioning problems. RADNET utilizes MYAPC as a case study of a nuclear power plant because of its central position in the bioregion (Gulf of Maine) which is the home of RADNET (Mount Desert Island, Maine). For information on the Center for Biological Monitoring, the sponsor of RADNET, see RAD 16.


The most recent Department of Energy estimate of common sources of radiation exposure provides the following data: natural radiation exposure 82% (radon 55%, radiation inside the body 11%, cosmic radiation 8%, terrestrial radiation 8%); artificial radiation exposure 18% (medical x-rays 11%, nuclear medicine 4%, consumer products 3%). The DOE estimates radiation exposure from fallout at less than 1%, and from the nuclear industry at .05%.  These figures can be misleading.

The purpose of RADNET is to document the amount of anthropogenic radioactivity that derives from what appear to be innocuous and insignificant anthropogenic sources. The editor of RADNET asks the following question:  while the generalized exposure estimate provided by the DOE might accurately describe sources of radiation exposure for a resident of a Florida condominium, what is the actual percentage of exposure for agricultural communities living in areas with Chernobyl-derived radiocesium deposition in excess of 100,000 Bq/m2, for Native Americans living downwind of uranium mill tailings or weapons test explosions, or for any other persons exposed to a specific source point? How is the significance of elevated radiation exposure to be evaluated without media-specific, nuclide-specific real time data about the radiation exposure of individuals or of small population groups?

Baseline data, biologically significant radionuclides, biogeochemical cycling, bioindicators, biological monitoring, cesium, concentration ratios, Chernobyl fallout data, dietary intake, indicator nuclides, nuclear information sources, plume pathways, plutonium, radiation protection guidelines, sediment loading, sentinel organisms.
Suggestions, corrections, comments and additions are always welcome: Please see our email address at the beginning and end of our home page. We particularly appreciate submissions of hard copy by surface mail.

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| Index | Introduction | Guide | Accidents | Definitions | Radionuclides | Protection Guidelines | Plumes | Baseline Data | Dietary Intake | Chernobyl | Source Points | Maine Yankee | Links | Bibliography | Alerts | Sponsor |