JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE
Institute for Transuranium Elements
 REMdb
REM Database details
SUMMARY
The Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring (REM) data bank was set-up in 1988 to bring together and store in a harmonized way environmental radioactivity data produced in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident. In this way the data bank has mainly two objectives:
  • to keep a historical record of the Chernobyl accident, for further scientific study
  • to store the radioactivity monitoring data of the EC Member States in order to prepare the Monitoring Report. By means of this report the Member States are informed of the radioactivity levels in the environment in the European Community, as stated in art. 35 - 36 of the Euratom Treaty.
REM is an online database containing a unique collection of environmental radioactivity measurements from a wide number of different sources, media and countries, mainly the 28 EU Member States.

If you want acced to the public REMdb area click on the above Public Area link or on the following link:
REMdb Public Area




The information held by the bank covers data from the twenty-seven EC Member States, as well as other European countries for both environmental samples and foodstuffs from 1984 onwards. Best represented are air, deposition, water, milk, meat and vegetables. The current total number of data records stored in REM exceeds 2 million. The data are sent by the national contact points of EU28 to the JRC by means of the "REM data submission tool", which was designed and developed for hat specific purpose. Data in the bank are on-line available to external users. Whilst querying the bank, the user can download the selected dataset on his/her PC in most popular data formats.


The REM Database (REMdb)
The REM database (REMdb) was set up by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) at Ispra, to help integrate and preserve some of the vast quantities of data concerning artificial environmental radioactivity produced in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident and with the overall aim of making them widely available in a coherent form for scientific study and for obtaining a European picture of the contamination situation.

REM provides a single framework for working with environmental radioactivity data originating from many and diverse sources. The database was conceived as a series of data records, each one containing a single measurement of a single radionuclide on a single sample. Within each data record is stored all the information required to fully characterize it and record the measurement. Examples of information commonly required for all data records would include descriptions of the sample, the measurement, the geographical location and source of the data.

Included in the database are the results of radionuclide measurements of both environmental samples and foodstuffs; best represented are air, deposition, water, milk, meat and vegetables. Alongside each measurement, information is stored about the location, sampling (when and how), analysis and source of the data.




Part of the work of the REM project is to generate subsets of specially qualified data. These can, for example, be used in environmental research, modelling exercises and monitoring reports. The following shows a typical workflow:




How data are used

All of the environmental radioactivity results received from the Member States are introduced into the REM Database. Compilations of the information received are published by the Commission as annual monitoring reports.

The aim of the report is to provide information on low levels of radioactivity in the European environment by making use of standardized reporting levels. These reporting levels are supported by presenting more detailed values of radioactivity levels from a limited number of stations that provide high-sensitivity measurements.

Reporting levels are meant to be a tool for facilitating the presentation of the results: if the results for a certain sample type radionuclide combination are above their corresponding reporting level (RL), then the measured values are stated in the report. Otherwise they are reported “<RL”.


Sampling media reported

Sampling medium Icon How samples are taken
Air Sampling is carried out by pumping air through filters at a flow rate of several hundred cubic metres per day.
Surface water Samples are either taken continuously or bulked for monthly or quarterly analysis, or alternatively, spot samples are taken periodically several times a year and analyzed individually.
Drinking water Samples may be taken from ground or surface water supplies, from water distribution networks, mineral waters, etc.
Milk Samples are generally taken on a monthly basis; but sometimes only during the pasture season.
Mixed diet Samples are taken as ingredients or as complete meals, mostly at places where many meals are consumed (i.e., factory restaurants, schools).


Dense vs. Sparse network data representation

Dense network data

The sampling locations which are distributed all over the Member States'territories, are referred to as the “dense network”.

The dense network results are presented graphically (with the exception of surface water as this sample type does not allow for geographical presentation) and in tabular form. The graphical representation illustrates the annual average radioactivity concentrations for each geographical region. Four shades are used to indicate the concentrations on a scale ranging from less than the reporting level to ten times the reporting level. In addition, each sampling location is illustrated.

The following shows an example of results for levels of radioactivity in airborne particulates sample type presented graphically:




The following shows the same results presented in tabular form:



These results are averaged over geographical regions and over a particular time period (quarter, semester or whole year, depending on the availability of data). The total number of sampling locations (column L) and the number of measurements (column N) used to calculate the annual averages are given for each geographical region. In addition, the monthly maximum (column Monthly max) and the month (column M) in which this occurred are given for those values above the appropriate reporting level.


Sparse network data

Actual concentrations are presented for a number of representative locations that were selected to this purpose. This is referred to as the “sparse network”. High‐sensitivity measurements are performed at these locations and the individual results are presented graphically. The results for the sparse network are preceded by a map illustrating the sampling locations. The data are presented as time versus activity concentration graphs from 1984 onwards (where the data are available).

The following shows an example of a map with sampling locations for airborne particulates in the sparse network:



The following shows an example of activity trends for Be-7 in airborne particulates presented graphically for the sparse network:



The choice of 1984 as a start date enables the pulse of radioactivity which entered the environment of the EU from the 1986 Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine to be seen clearly.


Radioactivity data main components

The REM Database includes information concerning:
  • Radioactivity measurements: Radioactivity measurements include the most important information necessary to describe the procedures for sample collection, treatment, analysis and measurement as performed by the original laboratories.
  • Source of data (or reference): This information should define how the data were received by the REM data management group (online report, diskette, letter etc.) together with the full reference (if apublished article or report is involved) and name and address of a contact person. The philosophy here is to supply all the information needed by external users to find the data independently for themselves.


LEGAL TITLES AND REFERENCES

Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (E.A.E.C. -EURATOM), Title Two - Provisions for the Encouragement of the Progress in the Field of Nuclear Energy, Chapter III: Health and Saftey, ARTICLE 36

PARTICIPANTS

Authorities of all European Member States provide data to the REM group on an annual basis for checking and storing in REMdb

For more information please visit the REMdb public or restricted area.