Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

RadNet

History of RadNet

RadNet and its forerunners have been collecting environmental radiation data for more than 50 years. The time line below shows how the system has changed over time and some of its important uses.

Chronology Milestone
1945-1955 Approximately 80 above ground nuclear blasts are conducted during this period by the U.S., the Soviet Union, and Great Britain.
1956 Radiation Alert Network (RAN) is set up to provide an early alert for radiation fallout. When included in ERAMS (later RadNet) in 1973, RAN had 68 sampling stations spread across the United States.
1957 Windscale (Great Britain) nuclear reactor--a fire resulted in a limited off-site release of radioactivity (Level 5, based on the International Nuclear Event Scale, or INES).
Kyshtym (Soviet Union) nuclear fuel reprocessing plant --an explosion resulted in a significant off-site release of radioactivity (INES Level 6).
1956-1958 Approximately 180 above ground nuclear blasts were conducted during this period by the U.S., the Soviet Union, and Great Britain.
1958 Great Britain conducts its last above ground nuclear blast.
1959 Executive Order 10831 and Public Law 86-373 issued, providing the legal basis for additional programs that eventually led to RadNet. Monitoring of radioactive fallout and environmental radiation became a responsibility of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).
1960 Pasteurized Milk Network (PMN) wa set up to monitor for radiation fallout in the human food chain. When brought into ERAMS (RadNet) in 1973, PMN had 63 sampling stations across the nation. Years later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will monitor radiation in milk as part of its food safety responsibilities.
France conducted its first three above ground nuclear blasts. These were the only blasts reported for any country this year.
1961-1962 Approximately 100 above ground nuclear blasts were conducted during this period by the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
1963 The U.S. and the Soviet Union stopped above ground nuclear blasts, partly because of the Cuban Missile Crisis and resulting Limited Test Ban Treaty that prohibited underwater, atmospheric, and outer space nuclear blasts.
1964 Tritium Surveillance System (TSS) was set up to monitor precipitation and tritium concentrations in major river systems downstream of selected nuclear facilities. When incorporated into ERAMS (RadNet) in 1973, TSS consisted of 8 monitoring stations.
People's Republic of China conducted its first above ground nuclear blast. This was the only above ground blast reported for any country that year.
1965-1967 Nine above ground nuclear blasts were conducted during this period by France and the People's Republic of China.
1967 TSS expanded to include drinking water and an larger network of surface water stations. The TSS consisted of 68 drinking waster sampling stations and 39 surface water stations before being added to ERAMS (RadNet).
1968-1970 Three above ground nuclear blasts were conducted during this period by the People's Republic of China.
1970 Radiation monitoring responsibilities transferred from HEW to EPA based on Reorganization Plan No. 3.
1971-1973 Seventeen above ground nuclear blasts were conducted during this period by People's Republic of China and France.
1973 ERAMS established by consolidation of several existing monitoring networks. ERAMS (RadNet) data begins being reported as summary data in quarterly Environmental Radiation Data (ERD) reports.
1974 Seven above ground nuclear blasts were conducted during this period by France and the People's Republic of China.
France conducted its last above ground nuclear blast.
1976-1978 Six above ground nuclear blasts were conducted during this period by the People's Republic of China. ERAMS (RadNet) provided information about the weapons tests and detected environmental releases of radioactivity.
1978 Analysis of potassium (K) in air ended.
1979 Electronic recording of ERAMS (RadNet) data began. It included individual sample analytical results in the ERAMS (RadNet) Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).
Three Mile Island (U.S.) nuclear power plant--a cooling malfunction caused part of a reactor core to melt, resulting in a limited off-site release of radioactivity (INES Level 5).
Analysis of tritium (H-3) in milk ended.
1980 One above ground nuclear blast was conducted during this period by the People's Republic of China.
The People's Republic of China conducted its last above ground nuclear blast.
Saint-Laurent (France) nuclear power plant--a fuel rupture resulted in a minor off-site release of radioactivity (INES Level 4).
1982 Analysis of uranium (U) and iodine (I) in drinking water begun.
1985 Analysis of plutonium (Pu) in milk ended.
1986 Chernobyl (Soviet Union) nuclear power plant --a steam explosion and fire caused a major off-site release of radioactivity (INES Level 7). ERAMS (RadNet) reported increased levels of radioactivity in the environment.
1987 Analysis of carbon-14 (C-14) in milk ended.
1993 Publishing of ERD reports began on the web site of the National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory National Analytical Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL), Montgomery, Alabama.
1996 Analysis of U and Pu in precipitation ended.
1999 Surface water samplings ended (to avoid duplicating state sampling programs around nuclear facilities).
Tokaimura (Japan) nuclear fuel processing facility--a criticality accident results in a minor off-site release of radioactivity (INES Level 4).
2000 Wildfires threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and scorched 200,000 acres of Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington State. ERAMS (RadNet) provided regional and national data to compare to samples taken in response to the fires.
2001 Terrorist attacks on September 11 (U.S.)--airliners flown into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. ERAMS (RadNet) provided regional and national data to compare to samples taken in response to the attacks. Later, ERAMS (RadNet) was reevaluated and updated to increase geographical coverage and better support national decision makers during emergencies.
2002 Individual ERAMS (RadNet)sample data became available on the EPA web.
2005 ERAMS became RadNet. Name changed to reflect new mission.
2011 The Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan, damaged by a major earthquake and tsunami, released radioactive materials into the environment. RadNet deployed portable monitors in Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific Territories, and accelerated its sampling and analyses schedules for air filters, precipitation, drinking water, and milk. RadNet detected miniscule quantities of radionuclides associated with the Fukushima accident. A thorough review of the data shows that the levels were thousands of times below any level of public health concern and continuing to decline, so RadNet resumed its routine sampling schedule.
2014 The RadNet monitoring network has grown to 130 stationary monitors across the entire U.S. EPA discontinues its milk sampling because it is redundant of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) programs and FDA has the responsibility for food safety, including monitoring radiation in milk.

Top of page

RadNet Home

Jump to main content.