, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 275-283

Measurement of resuspended aerosol in the Chernobyl area

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Size distribution measurements of particulate radionuclides were performed at two sites in the Chernobyl 30-km exclusion zone using several cascade impactors. The results obtained in the period September 1986 till June 1993 were discussed with regard to the general assumption of a log-normal activity size distribution in inhalation dose assessment. At Zapolie (a site 14 km from the Chernobyl reactor) a bimodal distribution was observed in 91% of all measured distributions. In most cases the medians were about 4 µm and in the range 20–30 µm. According to soil granulometric data this finding was explained by superimposing two processes: local resuspension and advective transport of radioactive aerosol from highly contaminated territories. The mean air concentration showed an increasing proportion of inhalable particles over the years since the accident. In 1993 the inhalable fraction was about 48% of the total concentration. At Pripyat, a site situated within a highly contaminated area, unimodal types of size distributions were predominant with the median diameters in the range 5–10 µm for 137Cs. For the three nuclides 137Cs, 144Ce and 106Ru, very similar types of distribution were observed. Apparently, the radioactive aerosol was of fuel origin. During a forest fire at a distance of 17 km, the majority of the radioactivity was associated with submicrometer particles with median diameters in the range 0.28–0.50 µm.

Received: 8 September 1997 / Accepted in revised form: 20 October 1997