Radiation measurement

Radiation is a part of Canada's environment. We have several measurement programs in place to protect the health of Canadians by continually monitoring radiation levels nationwide.

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Fixed Point Surveillance Network

The Fixed Point Surveillance (FPS) network monitors radiation dose to the public in real-time due to radioactive materials in the terrestrial environment, whether they are airborne or on the ground. It includes contributions from both natural and man-made sources. The FPS network measures the total external terrestrial gamma dose both as the Ambient Dose Equivalent H*(10) and as the physical dose Air KERMA (Kinetic Energy Released in unit MAss of Material). The contributions to external dose from 3 radioactive gases Argon-41, Xenon-133 and Xenon-135 are also reported as Air KERMA.

The tables below show the Air KERMA dose data available from the FPS network, normally as monthly summaries updated 4 times a year. The most recent H*(10) dose rate data may be found on a shared international website EURDEP (European Radiological Data Exchange Platform) hosted by the European Union:

Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network

The Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network (CRMN) is a national network that routinely collects air particulate, precipitation, external gamma dose, drinking water, atmospheric water vapour, and milk samples for radioactivity analysis.

Data from the CRMN is added to the open data portal on a regular basis.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Monitoring Network

The Minister of Health is responsible, through the Act of Implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, to establish and operate the Canadian radionuclide monitoring stations and the radionuclide laboratory.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) seeks a universal ban on all nuclear detonation as an effective means to stop further development of nuclear weapons. Since 1998, Health Canada has been contributing to the International Monitoring System (IMS), an element of the Verification Regime overseen by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Canadian Radionuclide Monitoring Stations

Canada is responsible for the installation and operation of fifteen monitoring stations across the country and a radionuclide laboratory. Health Canada's Radiation Protection Bureau is responsible for the radionuclide laboratory and four radionuclide monitoring stations. These installations, along with 11 other stations using seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound technology, collect and transmit monitoring data to the CTBTO to monitor for evidence of any nuclear explosion.

The monitoring stations locations were determined during the Treaty elaboration. The Treaty includes particulate monitoring at 80 stations worldwide and specifies that 40 of these stations include noble gas technology.

The radionuclide monitoring stations run twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week.

Health Canada is among the world leaders in the optimisation and the implementation of the noble gas technology. Health Canada has worked closely with the French equipment supplier, Environment S. A., and the French government DASE (Département Analyse, Surveillance, Environnement) laboratory in the field implementation and verification of the noble gas analysers in Canada.

Radionuclide analysis

Health Canada provides the radionuclide analysis for the Canadian National Data Centre (NDC). Using a sophisticated analytical software, the Canadian NDC automatically examines worldwide data and attempts to assign identities to all observed radionuclides in automatic and interactive assessment. The Canadian NDC is part of a User's Group, partnering with STUK, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, in the development of automated gamma ray spectrometry database application for test-ban Treaty verification and nuclear emergency preparedness. The basis of this application is LINux System for Spectral Information LINSSI, a STUK database for gamma-ray spectrometry created on the LINUX platform.

Background of the Treaty

Canada has long supported negotiated efforts on international nuclear arms control and disarmament, and was among the first states to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on September 24, 1996 at the UN General Assembly. The Treaty represents the achievement of years of talks held at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and imposes a total ban on nuclear test detonations for any purpose.

As more countries sign the Treaty, the Preparatory Commission and the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) work towards the eventual universal enforcement of the Treaty through the implementation of the Verification Regime and a comprehensive process of consultation. As of June 2019, of the 44 nuclear powers whose support is required under Annex 2 of the Treaty, 41 states have signed and 36 states have completed the full ratification process. In addition, 121 states have ratified the Treaty. The CTBTO and its members convene regularly at the Entry Into Force Conference to facilitate the timely resolution to the complex issues of compliance with countries who have yet to sign and complete the ratification process.

The International Monitoring System (IMS), an element of the Verification Regime, is composed of a world-wide network of 321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories capable of capturing detonation signatures anywhere under the sea, underground and in the air. The stations and laboratories transmit data to the International Data Centre (IDC), also part of the Verification Regime. The IDC analyses and makes the data from the stations and its analysis available to member States of the CTBT. Member States can request the data from any station in the network.

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