Scientists have discovered that radioactive iodine-131 has made its way into the atmosphere of several countries in Europe–and at present, no one knows the source of the contamination for sure.
The radiation spike was detected in Norway, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain in January, however officials have remained tight-lipped about it until now and are finally going public with the information.
This is particularly worrying as iodine-131 can cause mutation and death in any cells it penetrates and was also found at the site of the Chernobyl disaster as well as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The man-made radioactive material is said to have originated from Eastern Europe and has slowly been creeping through the continent ever since.
Although authorities say there is no risk to humans from this mysterious leak, skeptics are not totally at ease with the information. Some say they think that Russia may have been running a secret nuclear test in Norway, while others believe it may have come from a pharmaceutical company that has failed to report the issue.
According to the Norway Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), they believe the leak is caused by a pharmaceutical company who is likely using iodine-131 to create drugs to treat cancer. Or, they say, it could also be coming from a hospital or other radio-medical supplier who has failed to report their leak.
At this time, NRPA does not believe the chemicals are coming from a nuclear test or secret nuclear facility. Their reason is that the leak only produced iodine-131, which makes it unlikely to be something of that nature. If the leak were part of a nuclear test, many more chemicals would have been dumped into the atmosphere and it would have caused immediate problems for those in the surrounding areas.
Due to changing winds, no one has been able to isolate where the leak is coming from. Despite efforts, all have turned up empty.
Still, authorities remain optimistic and are telling the public not to worry about the levels of radioactivity in the atmosphere as it is too small to cause problems to humans.