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Radiation Redux: Forest fires remobilize fallout from bomb tests

A sensitive instrument installed in the Canadian Arctic to monitor fallout from modern nuclear tests has detected small amounts of radioactive cesium produced by bomb tests decades ago. The material, which during the Cold War was spread across northern latitudes by high-altitude winds, is still being redistributed far and wide by forest fires, researchers say.

Scientists use a worldwide network of sensors to ensure compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. While some devices are on the lookout for the telltale seismic vibrations generated by nuclear tests, others sniff the air for radioactive fallout (SN: 7/14/01, p. 25: Available to subscribers at The Silence of the Bams).

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