STUK monitors the radiation safety of the environment

STUK monitors the radiation safety of the environment

The purpose of the surveillance of environmental radiation is to assess the radiation safety of the Finnish environment. The concept of environment refers to factors that are present in the natural or built environment and with which humans have an interactive relationship. STUK monitors radioactivity in the environment in many ways. 

Environmental safety assessment is part of environmental risk management. The objective of safety assessment is to protect people, the environment, society and future generations from the harmful effects of radiation. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential to be constantly aware of the levels of radiation exposure of people and the environment. At the same time, compliance with the radiation legislation is ensured. Furthermore, radiation surveillance is designed so that it is possible to detect changes in radioactivity levels in the environment and respond to them,  estimate radiation doses received by people and plan and inform about realistically available means to reduce or avoid exposure.

Radioactive materials occur naturally in the Finnish environment and they are unevenly distributed. This means that naturally occurring radioactive materials are present in different amounts in different areas everywhere in our living environment. From the human perspective, the most significant substances include radon (present in indoor air), uranium (present in soil) and decay products of uranium (present in food and drinking water). Artificial radioactive materials have spread into the environment as a result of nuclear weapon tests performed in the atmosphere, nuclear power plant accidents and various other accidents. Small amounts of radioactive substances are continuously released into the environment from nuclear power plants and as a result of other uses of radiation.

The surveillance of environmental radiation consists of a regular annual programme carried out each year, thematic investigations carried out every five to ten years, and surveillance of radiation around nuclear power plants and mines. The surveillance programme covers all significant exposure routes and includes the monitoring of radioactivity levels in the human body.

The results of environmental radiation surveillance indicate that in 2014, the average annual radiation dose received by Finns from artificial radioactive materials was 0.02 millisieverts. 

Thematic investigations carried out every five to ten years

The annual environmental radiation surveillance programme gives an overall picture of the levels of radiation in Finland. Hoewever, it cannot be used for comprehensive assessment of the safety of the environment: it does not give enough information on the exposure of special groups of people or the variation of radioactive substance levels and, consequently, variation of the exposure. The results of the surveillance programme are supplemented with thematic investigations. They produce more detailed, up-to-date information on the most important radiation exposure sources for Finns.

More detailed information about the thematic investigations is provided in the report or summary of each investigation. Seven different thematic investigations are ongoing during the period 2103–2015. Some of them are already completed and the rest will be completed in 2015.

Reports and summaries of thematic investigations (  
Rakennusmateriaalien radioaktiivisuus Suomessa (Radioactivity in Finnish building materials)  March 2015
Radon ulkoilmassa (Radon in outdoor air)  December 2014
Lannoitteiden radioaktiivisuus (Radioactivity in fertilizers) May 2014
Päiväkotien radon (Radon in day care centres)    
Puutavaran ja puunjalostustuotteiden aktiivisuuspitoisuudet (Radioactivity in timber and wood products)   
Tuhkan radioaktiivisuus (Radioactivity in ash)  




  • Kaisa Vaaramaa / Head of Laboratory
    Tel. +358975988521