30 years of European Commission Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring data bank (REMdb) – an open door to boost environmental radioactivity research
The Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring data bank (REMdb) was created in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident (1986) by the European Commission (EC) – Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (DG JRC), sited in Ispra (Italy). Since then it has been maintained there with the aim to keep a historical record of the Chernobyl accident and to store the radioactivity monitoring data gathered through the national environmental monitoring programs of the member states (MSs). The legal basis is the Euratom Treaty, Chapter III Health and Safety, Articles 35 and 36, which clarify that MSs shall periodically communicate to the EC information on environmental radioactivity levels. By collecting and validating this information in REMdb, JRC supports the DG for Energy in its responsibilities in returning qualified information to the MSs (competent authorities and general public) on the levels of radioactive contamination of the various compartments of the environment (air, water, soil) on the European Union scale. REMdb accepts data on radionuclide concentrations from EU MSs in both environmental samples and foodstuffs from 1984 onwards. To date, the total number of data records stored in REMdb exceeds 5 million, in this way providing the scientific community with a valuable archive of environmental radioactivity topics in Europe. Records stored in REMdb are publicly accessible until 2011 through an unrestricted repository “REM data bank – Years 1984–2006” https://doi.org/10.2905/jrc-10117-10024 (De Cort et al., 2007) and “REM data bank – Years 2007–2011” https://doi.org/10.2905/de42f259-fafe-4329-9798-9d8fabb98de5 (De Cort et al., 2012). Access to data from 2012 onwards is granted only after explicit request, until the corresponding monitoring report is published. Each data record contains information describing the sampling circumstances (sampling type, begin and end time), measurement conditions (value, nuclide, apparatus, etc.), location and date of sampling, and original data reference. In this paper the scope, features and extension of REMdb are described in detail.