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Radioactive isotopes in atmospheric aerosols over Russia and the Sea of Japan following nuclear accident at Fukushima Nr. 1 Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011


Artificial radionuclides, such as iodine-131 (131I), cesium-134 (134Cs), and cesium-137 (137Cs), as well as natural isotopes of beryllium-7 (7Be) and potassium-40 (40K) have been registered in atmospheric aerosols over Vladivostok selected from 11 March to 17 June 2011. Additionally, 134Cs and 137Cs were detected in atmospheric aerosols over Tomsk selected from 16 March to 17 June 2011. Artificial radionuclides were also discovered in atmospheric wet depositions sampled in Vladivostok from 3 to 17 May 2011. Moreover, these radionuclides have been registered in atmospheric aerosols over the sea surface of the Sea of Japan selected from 3 to 31 May 2011 during an expedition of the “Nadezhda” sailing ship. From 18 March to 15 April, an increase in concentrations of atmospheric aerosols over Vladivostok from 108.8 to 321.5 μg/m3 has been registered. It was accompanied by increased activity concentrations of 134Cs, 137Cs, and the 131I. During the period from 18 March to 15 April, activity concentrations of 137Cs and 134Cs in atmospheric aerosols increased 100 times compared with the minimum detectable concentration (MDC) level and peaked in the weekly sample gathered from 8 to 15 April (145.0 and 105.3 μBq/m3, respectively). Variability of concentrations of natural isotopes of 7Be and 40K was not greater than 1 order of magnitude throughout the sampling period. Maximal values of 137Cs and 134Cs concentrations (1,281.5 ± 141 and 384.4 ± 42.3 μBq/m3, respectively) in Tomsk were reached in samples taken from 1 to 2 April. For the atmospheric aerosol samples from the Sea of Japan, the largest concentration of 131I (392.3 ± 215.7 μBq/m3) was detected from 13 to 19 May, while all other samples had much lower concentration values. Synoptic analysis of back trajectories movement of air masses showed that the radioactive cloud came to Vladivostok from the regions of Siberia and northeastern part of China. Synoptic analysis for Tomsk showed that during the period of maximal activity concentrations (1–9 April), air masses were arriving from the European part of Russia and north of Kazakhstan.

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The work is supported by the international Russian-Japanese grant 12-05-92104 (Russian Foundation for Basic Research).

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Correspondence to Andrey S. Neroda.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Neroda, A.S., Mishukov, V.F., Goryachev, V.A. et al. Radioactive isotopes in atmospheric aerosols over Russia and the Sea of Japan following nuclear accident at Fukushima Nr. 1 Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 5669–5677 (2014).

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  • Artificial radioactive isotopes
  • Fukushima reactor accident
  • Aerosols
  • Atmosphere
  • Transport