Local distribution of radioactivity in tree leaves contaminated by fallout of the radionuclides emitted from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
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We analyzed fresh and dead leaves collected in forests in Fukushima after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident, using autoradiography. Both fresh and dead leaves of Cryptomeria japonica were contaminated by radionuclides (134Cs and 137Cs). Contamination of the fresh leaves was possibly attributed to interception of radionuclides by tree canopies, whereas the dead leaves indicated the direct deposition of radionuclides by fallout and/or washout of radionuclides intercepted by tree canopies. Translocation of radiocesium from a contaminated branch to new leaves growing after the FDNPP accident was not clearly observed, although transfer of radiocesium from leaf parts to male flowers occurred. Fallen leaves of Quercus serrata, which started growing after the FDNPP accident, did not show radioactivity, indicating that significant amounts of translocation from other parts to new leaves did not occur. Fallen leaves of Q. serrata collected from a litter showed hot spots originating from direct fallout. Needles of Pinus densiflora were also contaminated by fallout. Leaching with pure water removed soluble fractions of radiocesium and hot particles from the surface of the contaminated leaves, but significant amounts of radioactivity remained. This means that foliar absorption occurred in both fresh and dead leaves. Further leaching experiments using surfactant and acetone could not remove the remaining radiocesium from the leaves. The leaching experiments indicate that radiocesium in the contaminated leaves is strongly fixed in leaf tissues and is not readily released unless leaf tissues are decomposed.
KeywordsFukushima Radioactivity Radiocesium Tree leaves Autoradiography
We thank Dr. H. Doi for his support in microscope observation of leaf samples. This work was carried out in the FMWSE project (Fukushima Radiation Monitoring of Water, Soil and Entrainment) supported by MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology in Japan).
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