RadNet is one of many radiation monitoring systems in the U.S. For example, there are highly sensitive detectors set up to monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and many states and all nuclear power plants have monitoring systems.
However, RadNet is the only nationwide system that continuously monitors of ambient environmental radiation levels and those resulting from major nuclear accidents, such as the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident in Japan. RadNet data are used to inform the public, providing assurance if contamination levels are very low or helping to make science-based decisions about taking protective actions if contamination levels are high enough to warrant them.
Why does EPA test air, precipitation, drinking water, and milk for radionuclides?
Contamination from nuclear incidents typically travels through the air in the form of particulates, although some contamination may be gaseous or become waterborne. By monitoring for airborne particulates, EPA’s health physicists can estimate inhalation doses to humans. Measuring precipitation provides a good way to determine the amount of contamination which is stripped from the air by rain or snow and deposited on the ground. EPA monitors drinking water and milk to help public officials determine if food and water supplies are safe for consumption. Actual food supply monitoring is provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. EPA is also considering expanding the program to better protect you from contamination due to nuclear events. Here’s more about the air, drinking water, milk and precipitation monitoring programs.