Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Journal of environmental radioactivity


A study was undertaken to determine activity concentrations for (134)Caesium, (137)Caesium and (210)Polonium in New Zealand seafood, and establish if activity concentrations varied with respect to species/ecological niche and coastal region. Thirty seafood samples were obtained from six fishing regions of New Zealand along with a further six samples of two commercially important species (hoki and arrow squid) with well-defined fisheries. (134)Caesium was not detected in any sample. (137)Caesium was detected in 47% of samples, predominantly in pelagic fish species, with most activities at a trace level. Detections of (137)Caesium were evenly distributed across all regions. Activity concentrations were consistent with those expected from the oceanic inventory representing residual fallout from global nuclear testing. (210)Polonium was detected above the minimum detectable concentration in 33 (92%) of the analysed samples. Molluscs displayed significantly elevated activity concentrations relative to all other species groups. No significant regional variation in activity concentrations were determined. Two dose assessment models for high seafood consumers were undertaken. Dose contribution from (137)Caesium was minimal and far below the dose exemption limit of 1 mSv/year. Exposure to (210)Polonium was significant in high seafood consumers at 0.44-0.77 mSv/year (5th-95th percentile). (137)Caesium is concluded to be a valuable sentinel radionuclide for monitoring anthropogenic releases, such as global fallout and reactor releases, in the marine environment. (210)Polonium is of importance as a natural radionuclide sentinel due to its high contribution to dietary committed dose in seafood consumers.

Concepts: Species, Fish, Concentration, Chemical equilibrium, New Zealand, Radioactive contamination, Region, Pelagic fish


Analyses of (131)I, (137)Cs and (134)Cs in airborne aerosols were carried out in daily samples in Vilnius, Lithuania after the Fukushima accident during the period of March-April, 2011. The activity concentrations of (131)I and (137)Cs ranged from 12 μBq/m(3) and 1.4 μBq/m(3) to 3700 μBq/m(3) and 1040 μBq/m(3), respectively. The activity concentration of (239,240)Pu in one aerosol sample collected from 23 March to 15 April, 2011 was found to be 44.5 nBq/m(3). The two maxima found in radionuclide concentrations were related to complicated long-range air mass transport from Japan across the Pacific, the North America and the Atlantic Ocean to Central Europe as indicated by modelling. HYSPLIT backward trajectories and meteorological data were applied for interpretation of activity variations of measured radionuclides observed at the site of investigation. (7)Be and (212)Pb activity concentrations and their ratios were used as tracers of vertical transport of air masses. Fukushima data were compared with the data obtained during the Chernobyl accident and in the post Chernobyl period. The activity concentrations of (131)I and (137)Cs were found to be by 4 orders of magnitude lower as compared to the Chernobyl accident. The activity ratio of (134)Cs/(137)Cs was around 1 with small variations only. The activity ratio of (238)Pu/(239,240)Pu in the aerosol sample was 1.2, indicating a presence of the spent fuel of different origin than that of the Chernobyl accident.

Concepts: United States, Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Meteorology, Smoke, Radiation poisoning, Radioactive contamination, Financial ratio


Krypton-85 is mainly produced in nuclear reactors by fission of uranium and plutonium and released during chopping and dissolution of spent fuel rods in nuclear reprocessing facilities. As noble gas it is suited as a passive tracer for evaluation of atmospheric transport models. Furthermore, research is ongoing to assess its quality as an indicator for clandestine reprocessing activities. This paper continues previous efforts to compile a comprehensive historic emission inventory for krypton-85. Reprocessing facilities are the by far largest emitters of krypton-85. Information on sources and calculations used to derive the annual krypton-85 emission is provided for all known reprocessing facilities in the world. In addition, the emission characteristics of two plants, Tokai (Japan) and La Hague (France), are analysed in detail using emission data with high temporal resolution. Other types of krypton-85 sources are power reactors, naval reactors and isotope production facilities. These sources contribute only little or negligible amounts of krypton-85 compared to the large reprocessing facilities. Taking the decay of krypton-85 into account, the global atmospheric inventory is estimated to about 5500 PBq at the end of 2009. The correctness if the inventory has been proven by meteorological simulations and its error is assumed to be in the range of a few percent.

Concepts: Nuclear fission, Nuclear power, Nuclear proliferation, Spent nuclear fuel, Nuclear reprocessing, Plutonium, Nuclear fuel, Nuclear fuel cycle


The knowledge of the distribution of (137)Cs deposition over Spanish mainland soils along with the geographical, physical and morphological terrain information enable us to know the (137)Cs background content in soil. This could be useful as a tool in a hypothetical situation of an accident involving a radioactive discharge or in soil erosion studies. A Geographic Information System (GIS) would allow the gathering of all the mentioned information. In this work, gamma measurements of (137)Cs on 34 Spanish mainland soils, rainfall data taken from 778 weather stations, soil types and geographical and physical terrain information were input into a GIS. Geostatistical techniques were applied to interpolate values of (137)Cs activity at unsampled places, obtaining prediction maps of (137)Cs deposition. Up to now, geostatistical methods have been used to model spatial continuity of data. Through semivariance and cross-covariance functions the spatial correlation of such data can be studied and described. Ordinary and simple kriging techniques were carried out to map spatial patterns of (137)Cs deposition, and ordinary and simple co-kriging were used to improve the prediction map obtained through a second related variable: namely the rainfall. To choose the best prediction map of (137)Cs deposition, the spatial dependence of the variable, the correlation coefficient and the prediction errors were evaluated using the different models previously mentioned. The best result for (137)Cs deposition map was obtained when applying the co-kriging techniques.

Concepts: Scientific method, Geography, Geographic information system, Erosion, Geology, Map, Cartography, Geostatistics


The objective of this study is to quantify the relative amounts of exchangeable organically bound tritium (OBT) and non-exchangeable OBT in various vegetables. A garden plot at Perch Lake, where tritium levels are slightly elevated due to releases of tritium from a nearby nuclear waste management area and Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) operations, was used to cultivate a variety of vegetables. Five different kinds of vegetables (lettuce, cabbage, tomato, radish and beet) were studied. Exchangeable OBT behaves like tritium in tissue free water in living organisms and, based on past measurements, accounts for about 20% of the total tritium in dehydrated organic materials. In this study, the percentage of the exchangeable OBT was determined to range from 20% to 57% and was found to depend on the type of vegetables as well as the sequence of the plants exposure to HTO.

Concepts: Organism, Plant, Nuclear medicine, Annual plant, Fruit, Waste, Tritium, Root vegetable


The determination of gross alpha, gross beta and (226)Ra activity in natural waters is useful in a wide range of environmental studies. Furthermore, gross alpha and gross beta parameters are included in international legislation on the quality of drinking water [Council Directive 98/83/EC].(1) In this work, a low-background liquid scintillation counter (Wallac, Quantulus 1220) was used to simultaneously determine gross alpha, gross beta and (226)Ra activity in natural water samples. Sample preparation involved evaporation to remove (222)Rn and its short-lived decay daughters. The evaporation process concentrated the sample ten-fold. Afterwards, a sample aliquot of 8 mL was mixed with 12 mL of Ultima Gold AB scintillation cocktail in low-diffusion vials. In this study, a theoretical mathematical model based on secular equilibrium conditions between (226)Ra and its short-lived decay daughters is presented. The proposed model makes it possible to determine (226)Ra activity from two measurements. These measurements also allow determining gross alpha and gross beta simultaneously. To validate the proposed model, spiked samples with different activity levels for each parameter were analysed. Additionally, to evaluate the model’s applicability in natural water, eight natural water samples from different parts of Spain were analysed. The eight natural water samples were also characterised by alpha spectrometry for the naturally occurring isotopes of uranium ((234)U, (235)U and (238)U), radium ((224)Ra and (226)Ra), (210)Po and (232)Th. The results for gross alpha and (226)Ra activity were compared with alpha spectrometry characterization, and an acceptable concordance was obtained.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Mathematics, Water, Uranium, Evaporation, Scintillator, Scintillation counter, Liquid scintillation counting


Concentrations of organically bound tritium (OBT) and tissue-free water tritium (TFWT, also referred to as HTO) in fruits and tubers were measured at a garden plot in the vicinity of the source of chronic airborne tritium emissions during the 2008, 2010, and 2011 growing seasons. A continuous record of HTO concentration in the air moisture was reconstructed from the continuous record of Ar-41 ambient gamma radiation, as well as from frequent measurements of air HTO by active samplers at the garden plot and Ar-41 and air HTO monitoring data from the same sector. Performed measurements were used for testing the modified Specific Activity (SA) model based on the assumption that the average air HTO during the pod-filling period provides an appropriate basis for estimating the levels of OBT present in pods, fruits and tubers. It is established that the relationship between the OBT of fruits and tubers and the average air HTO from a 15-20 day wide window centred at the peak of the pod-filling period is consistent throughout the three analysed years, and could be expressed by the fruit or tuber’s OBT to air-HTO ratio of 0.93 ± 0.21. For all three years, the concentration of HTO in fruits and tubers was found to be related to levels of HTO in the air, as averaged within a 3-day pre-harvest window. The variability in the ratio of plant HTO to air HTO appears to be three times greater than that for the OBT of the fruits and tubers. It is concluded that the OBT of fruits and tubers adequately follows an empirical relationship based on the average level of air HTO from the pod-filling window, and therefore is clearly in line with the modified SA approach.

Concepts: Plant, Measurement, Concentration, Ratio, Plant morphology, Tuber, Assumption of Mary, Tritium


An assessment of the radiological situation due to exposure to gamma radiation, radon and thoron was carried out at selected former uranium mining and processing sites in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Gamma dose rate measurements were made using various field instruments and radon/thoron measurements were carried out using discriminative radon ((222)Rn)/thoron ((220)Rn) solid state nuclear track detectors (SSNTD). The detectors were exposed for an extended period of time, including at least three seasonal periods in a year, in different outdoor and indoor public and residential environments at the selected uranium legacy sites. The results showed that gamma, Rn and Tn doses were in general low, which consequently implies a low/relatively low radiological risk. The major radiation hazard is represented by abandoned radioactive filtration material that was being used as insulation by some Minkush residents (Kyrgyzstan) for a longer period of time. Annual radiation doses of several hundred mSv could be received as a consequence of using this material domestically. In addition, the gamma and Rn/Tn dose rates at Digmai, Tajikistan, could reach values of several 10 mSv/a. The doses of ionizing radiation deriving from external radiation (gamma dose rate), indoor radon and thoron with their short-lived progenies in several cases exceeded the recommended annual effective dose threshold level of 10 mSv. At none of the sites investigated did the individual annual effective doses exceed 30 mSv, the internationally recommended value for considering intervention. Current doses of ionizing radiation do not represent a serious hazard to the health of the resident public, but this issue should be adequately addressed to further reduce needless exposure of the resident public to ionizing radiation.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Radioactive decay, Radiation poisoning, Background radiation, Radon, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan


In the field conditions, the long-term (2013-2015) small-plots experiment was carried out for evaluation of radiological efficiency of application of ameliorants as the countermeasures for reduction of the (137)Cs uptake to herbage at the Peat-boggy (Histosols) soils of Ukrainian Polissya. At the late stage after the Chernobyl accident, the average radiological efficiencies of application of sand (175-200 ton ha(-1)) and ferrocyn (0.2 ton ha(-1)) as the ameliorants were rather low ranging from 0.8 to 1.6. Application of 4 ton ha-1 of chalk and 5 ton ha-1 of peat ash decreased 1.7-1.9 times the (137)Cs activity concentrations in plans. The highest radiological efficiencies, 4.4 ± 2.0 and 7 ± 2, were reached at applications of chalk-ferrocyn ameliorant (4 + 0.2 ton ha(-1)) and ferrocyn-bentonite absorbent HZH-90 (30 ton ha(-1)), respectively.

Concepts: Chernobyl disaster, Electrochemistry, Soil, Ukraine, Radiation poisoning, Belarus, Kiev, Kiev Oblast


April 2016 sees the 30(th) anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. As a consequence of the accident populations were relocated in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and remedial measures were put in place to reduce the entry of contaminants (primarily (134+137)Cs) into the human food chain in a number of countries throughout Europe. Remedial measures are still today in place in a number of countries, and areas of the former Soviet Union remain abandoned. The Chernobyl accident led to a large resurgence in radioecological studies both to aid remediation and to be able to make future predictions on the post-accident situation, but, also in recognition that more knowledge was required to cope with future accidents. In this paper we discuss, what in the authors' opinions, were the advances made in radioecology as a consequence of the Chernobyl accident. The areas we identified as being significantly advanced following Chernobyl were: the importance of semi-natural ecosystems in human dose formation; the characterisation and environmental behaviour of ‘hot particles’; the development and application of countermeasures; the “fixation” and long term bioavailability of radiocaesium and; the effects of radiation on plants and animals.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Chernobyl disaster, Food chain, Ukraine, Nuclear power, Russia, Soviet Union, Belarus