The radioactive air particles from the east spread out over Czechoslovakia and then rebounded back over Czechoslovak territory after hitting the Alps, which pushed the radiation back in the direction of Poland. The first signs of an approaching radioactive cloud were registered by employees of the Dukovany nuclear power plant in the night of April 29. The next day the Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology as well as regional hygiene stations started monitoring radioactivity levels around the country.
From the medical point of view, the key elements causing radioactive contamination were caesium and iodine. The half-life of iodine is 8 days, therefore it was potentially dangerous only in the first few days after the accident, whereas the half-life of caesium is 30 years and it enters the food chain. In view of this, the Czechoslovak authorities took some measures to reduce the contamination of food. The highest level of contamination was in milk and leafy vegetables.
The level of radioactive contamination on the territory of the Czech Republic is still an object of research. Expert studies estimate that the radiation local inhabitants were exposed to in the immediate wake of the accident was 0,26 mSv, that is approximately a tenth of the radiation that people in this part of the world are exposed to under normal circumstances in the course of a year. With every passing year the levels of radiation decreased. It is possible to say that the average dose of radiation to which people in this country were exposed did not exceed the set limits. However in individual cases this might have happened.
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