Radiological Monitoring at the Radiation Protection Bureau of Health Canada

Monitoring for radionuclides is crucial for the country to be prepared for any nuclear emergency. Canada’s Radiation Protection Bureau (RPB), part of Health Canada, maintains and monitors three different networks, with sensors located in both population centers and remote communities.

Two of those networks, the Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network, and the Fixed Point Surveillance Network are managed by the RPB. The RPB also operates and maintains a third network four stations across the country as part of the United Nations Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.

Explore the Data

Explore the data and resources currently available from these three networks through this interactive map. The map shows the approximate sampling location for each monitoring network since precise location of the stations is not publicly available; city centres are used as the representative location.

Use the left hand menu to select sampling programs of interest. For some locations, monitoring data are displayed in graphical form. Each sample type has a short description and links are provided for more information or data.

A description of each network is below, and how the Radiation Protection Bureau is continuously monitoring environmental samples for radiation.

The Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network (CRMN)

The Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network (CRMN) was initiated in 1959 to monitor the environmental effects of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. This network currently serves to establish baseline radiation levels from natural sources. This important work will be vital for reference in the event of any future intentional or accidental release of radioactivity into the environment. Samples of ubiquitous items (e.g. air, water, and milk) are collected at regular intervals (weekly to quarterly) from across the country. The environmental samples are tested to ensure they do not exceed normal parameters. You can find the entire dataset from the CRMN on Open Canada.

The Fixed Point Surveillance Network (FPN)

The Fixed Point Surveillance Network is an array of gamma detectors distributed strategically across the country, which report their data in near real-time. Some of the detectors are concentrated in locations of radiological interest, such as near nuclear power plants or ports where nuclear powered vessels may berth. The detectors are also distributed across population centers.

Near real-time data from the FPN are now available through the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). Zoom in to each location to get hourly and daily averaged data for the last day and month, respectively.

EU Comm Joint Research Centre Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring
Explore near real-time FPN data through the Joint Research Centre map (linked).

Also of potential interest through the JRC site are European maps of naturally occurring radiation due to cosmic rays, indoor radon observations, and concentrations of natural isotopes in soils and bedrock.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)

Canada also maintains four stations across the country as part of the United Nations Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization. These four locations are part of the global 80 station network which ensures that no nuclear explosion goes undetected through its use of seismic, hydroacoustic (for oceanic testing), infrasound (soundwaves inaudible to human hearing), and radionuclide signals that are released from such detonations.

In addition to detection of nuclear tests or accidents, this network of stations also contributes data to our understanding of the volcanoes, climate change, whale movement, and contributes to the real-time monitoring for tsunami.

You can see a map of the CTBTO stations by clicking on international monitoring system tab on the right. You can also choose to see the locations of past nuclear explosions!

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