Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 27, pp 27872–27887 | Cite as

Accumulation of natural and anthropogenic radionuclides in body profiles of Bryidae, a subgroup of mosses

  • Qiangqiang Zhong
  • Jinzhou Du
  • Viena Puigcorbé
  • Jinlong WangEmail author
  • Qiugui Wang
  • Binbin Deng
  • Fule Zhang
Research Article


Mosses can be used as biomonitors to monitor radionuclide deposition and heavy metal pollution in cities, forests, and grasslands. The aims of this work were to determine the activity concentrations of natural (210Po, 210Pb or 210Pbex (excess 210Pb is defined as the activity of 210Pb minus the activity of 226Ra), 7Be, 40K, 226Ra, 238U, and 232Th) and anthropogenic radionuclides (137Cs) in moss body profiles and in situ underlying soils of moss samples and to assess/determine the distribution features and accumulation of these radionuclides. Activity concentrations of radionuclides in the samples were measured using a low-background gamma spectrometer and a low-background alpha spectrometer. Consistent with their source, the studied radionuclides in the moss samples and underlying soils were divided according to the principal component analysis (PCA) results into an airborne group (210Po, 210Pb (210Pbex), 7Be, and 137Cs) and a terrestrial group (40K, 238U, 226Ra, and 232Th). The activity concentrations of 210Po and 210Pbex in moss body profiles were mainly concentrated in the stems–rhizoid parts, in which we measured some of the highest 210Po and 210Pbex levels compared to the results in the literature. 7Be mainly accumulated in the leaves–stem parts. Different positive correlations were observed between 210Po and 210Pb and between 7Be and 210Pb, which indicated that the uptake mechanisms of 210Po, 210Pb, and 7Be by moss plants were different, to some extent. 137Cs was detected only in some moss samples, and the fraction of 137Cs in the underlying soils was much lower than that in the moss, suggesting that mosses were protecting the underlying soils from further pollution. Except for 40K, the terrestrial radionuclide (238U, 226Ra, and 232Th) content in mosses was predominantly at low levels, which indicated not only the inability of mosses to use those elements for metabolic purposes but also the rather poor capability of mosses to directly mobilize, absorb, and transport elements (U, Ra, or Th) not dissolved in water.


Accumulation Biomonitoring Moss body profiles 137Cs 7Be 210Po–210Pb disequilibrium Terrestrial radionuclides 



We are grateful to Dr. Ruiliang Zhu, School of Life Science, East China Normal University, for his advice and guidance in moss species identification. We would like to thank the group members of the RIC team in East China Normal University for their help in sampling. We would also like to thank the in-depth reviews of two anonymous reviewers.

Funding information

This study was partly supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 41576083, 41706089, and 41706083).


  1. Aarkrog A, Dahlgaard H, Holm E, Hallstadius L (1984) Evidence for bismuth-207 in global fallout. J Environ Radioact 1:107–117Google Scholar
  2. Aleksiayenak YV, Frontasyeva MV, Florek M, Sykora I, Holy K, Masarik J, Brestakova L, Jeskovsky M, Steinnes E, Faanhof A, Ramatlhape KI (2013) Distributions of 137Cs and 210Pb in moss collected from Belarus and Slovakia. J Environ Radioact 117:19–24Google Scholar
  3. Al-Masri MS, Mamish S, Al-Haleem MA, Al-Shamali K (2005) Lycopodium cernuum and Funaria hygrometrica as deposition indicators for radionuclides and trace metals. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 266:49–55Google Scholar
  4. Bakar NSA, Mahmood ZUYW, Saat A, Ishak AK (2014) Anthropogenic airborne depositions of Po-210, Pb-210 and Po-210/Pb-210 in the mosses and surface soils at the vicinity of a coal-fired power. J Sains Nukl Malays 26(1):9–17Google Scholar
  5. Baskaran M (2011) Po-210 and Pb-210 as atmospheric tracers and global atmospheric Pb-210 fallout: a review. J Environ Radioact 102:500–513Google Scholar
  6. Belivermiş M, Kılıç Ö, Çayır A, Coşkun M, Coşkun M (2016) Assessment of 210Po and 210Pb in lichen, moss and soil around Çan coal-fired power plant, Turkey. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 307:523–531Google Scholar
  7. Betsou C, Tsakiri E, Kazakis N, Hansman J, Krmar M, Frontasyeva M, Ioannidou A (2018) Heavy metals and radioactive nuclide concentrations in mosses in Greece. Radiat Eff Defects Solids 173(9–10):851–856Google Scholar
  8. Boryło A, Olszewski G, Skwarzec B (2013) A study on lead (210Pb) and polonium (210Po) contamination from phosphogypsum in the environment of Wiślinka (northern Poland). Environ Sci Processes Impacts 15(8):1622–1628Google Scholar
  9. Boryło A, Romańczyk G, Skwarzec B (2017) Lichens and mosses as polonium and uranium biomonitors on Sobieszewo Island. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 311:859–869Google Scholar
  10. Burger A, Lichtscheidl I (2018) Stable and radioactive cesium: a review about distribution in the environment, uptake and translocation in plants, plant reactions and plants' potential for bioremediation. Sci Total Environ 618:1459–1485Google Scholar
  11. Celik N, Cevik U, Celik A, Koz B (2009) Natural and artificial radioactivity measurements in eastern Black Sea region of Turkey. J Hazard Mater 162:146–153Google Scholar
  12. Chen J, Luo S, Huang Y (2016) Scavenging and fractionation of particle-reactive radioisotopes 7Be, 210Pb and 210Po in the atmosphere. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 188:208–223Google Scholar
  13. Delfanti R, Papucci C, Benco C (1999) Mosses as indicators of radioactivity deposition around a coal-fired power station. Sci Total Environ 227:49–56Google Scholar
  14. Demková L, Bobul’ská L, Árvay J, Jezný T, Ducsay L (2017) Biomonitoring of heavy metals contamination by mosses and lichens around Slovinky tailing pond (Slovakia). J Environ Sci Health A Toxic/Hazard Subst Environ Eng 52(1):30–36Google Scholar
  15. Długosz-Lisiecka M (2017) Kinetics of 210Po accumulation in moss body profiles. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24(25):20254–20260Google Scholar
  16. Długosz-Lisiecka M, Wróbel J (2014) Use of moss and lichen species to identify 210Po-contaminated regions. Environ Sci Processes Impacts 16(12):2729–2733Google Scholar
  17. Dowdall M, Gwynn JP, Moran C, O'Dea J, Davids C, Lind B (2005) Uptake of radionuclides by vegetation at a high Arctic location. Environ Pollut 133:327–332Google Scholar
  18. Dragović S, Mihailović N, Gajić B (2010) Quantification of transfer of 238U, 226Ra, 232Th, 40K and 137Cs in mosses of a semi-natural ecosystem. J Environ Radioact 101:159–164Google Scholar
  19. Du J, Du J, Baskaran M, Bi Q, Huang D, Jiang Y (2015) Temporal variations of atmospheric depositional fluxes of 7Be and 210Pb over 8 years (2006–2013) at Shanghai, China, and synthesis of global fallout data. J Geophys Res Atmos 120:4323–4339Google Scholar
  20. Eckl P, Hofmann W, Tüurk R (1986) Uptake of natural and man-made radionuclides by lichens and mushrooms. Radiat Environ Biophys 25:43–54Google Scholar
  21. Galhardi JA, García-Tenorio R, Díaz Francés I, Bonotto DM, Marcelli MP (2017) Natural radionuclides in lichens, mosses and ferns in a thermal power plant and in an adjacent coal mine area in southern Brazil. J Environ Radioact 167:43–53Google Scholar
  22. Geffert JL, Frahm JP, Barthlott W, Mutke J (2013) Global moss diversity: spatial and taxonomic patterns of species richness. J Bryol 35(1):1–11Google Scholar
  23. Godoy JM, Schuch LA, Nordemann DJR, Reis VRG, Ramalho M, Recio JC, Brito RRA, Olech MA (1998) 137Cs, 226, 228Ra, 210Pb and 40K concentrations in Antarctic soil, sediment and selected moss and lichen samples. J Environ Radioact 41:33–45Google Scholar
  24. Gordo E, Dueñas C, Fernández MC, Liger E, Cañete S (2015) Behavior of ambient concentrations of natural radionuclides 7Be, 210Pb, 40K in the Mediterranean coastal city of Málaga (Spain). Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:7653–7664Google Scholar
  25. Hu QH, Weng JQ, Wang JS (2010) Sources of anthropogenic radionuclides in the environment: a review. J Environ Radioact 101(6):426–437Google Scholar
  26. Kamar M, Radnović D, Hansman J, Repić P (2017) Influence of broadleaf forest vegetation on atmospheric deposition of airborne radionuclides. J Environ Radioact 177:32–36Google Scholar
  27. Karunakara N, Avadhani DN, Mahesh HM, Somashekarappa HM, Narayana Y, Siddappa K (2000) Distribution and enrichment of 210Po in the environment of Kaiga in South India. J Environ Radioact 51(3):349–362Google Scholar
  28. Karunakara N, Somashekarappa HM, Narayana Y, Avadhani DN, Mahesh HM, Siddappa K (2003) 226Ra, 40K and 7Be activity concentrations in plants in the environment of Kaiga, India. J Environ Radioact 65:255–266Google Scholar
  29. Kershaw P, Baxter A (1995) The transfer of reprocessing wastes from north-west Europe to the Arctic. Deep Sea Res Part II 42(6):1413–1448Google Scholar
  30. Krmar M, Radnović D, Rakic S, Matavuly M (2007) Possible use of terrestrial mosses in detection of atmospheric deposition of 7Be over large areas. J Environ Radioact 95(1):53–61Google Scholar
  31. Krmar M, Wattanavatee K, Radnović D, Slivka J, Bhongsuwan T, Frontasyeva MV, Pavlov SS (2013) Airborne radionuclides in mosses collected at different latitudes. J Environ Radioact 117:45–48Google Scholar
  32. Krmar M, Mihailović DT, Arsenić I, Radnović D, Pap I (2016) Beryllium-7 and 210Pb atmospheric deposition measured in moss and dependence on cumulative precipitation. Sci Total Environ 541:941–948Google Scholar
  33. Lal D, Malhotra PK, Peters B (1958) On the production of radioisotopes in the atmosphere by cosmic radiation and their application to meteorology. J Atmos Terr Phys 12:306–328Google Scholar
  34. Li P, Sun X, Cheng J, Zheng G (2019) Absorption of the natural radioactive gas 222Rn and its progeny 210Pb by Spanish moss Tillandsia usneoides and its response to radiation. Environ Exp Bot 158:22–27Google Scholar
  35. Martínez-Aguirre A, García-León M, Gascó C, Travesi A (1996) Anthropogenic emissions of 210Po, 210Pb and 226Ra in an estuarine environment. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 207(2):357–367Google Scholar
  36. Mitrović B, Ajtić J, Lazić M, Andrić V, Krstić N, Vranješ B, Vićentijević M (2016) Natural and anthropogenic radioactivity in the environment of Kopaonik mountain, Serbia. Environ Pollut 215:273–279Google Scholar
  37. Oguri E, Deguchi H (2018) Radiocesium contamination of the moss Hypnum plumaeforme caused by the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. J Environ Radioact 192:648–653Google Scholar
  38. Persson BRR, Holm E (2011) Polonium-210 and lead-210 in the terrestrial environment: a historical review. J Environ Radioact 102:420–429Google Scholar
  39. Pettersson HBL, Hallstadius L, Redvall R, Holm E (1988) Radioecology in the vicinity of prospected uranium mining sites in a subarctic environment. J Environ Radioact 6:25–40Google Scholar
  40. Ross EM, Wesley SG (2011) 210Po in epiphytic lichens of peninsular India. Curr Sci 100(2):163–164Google Scholar
  41. Sert E, Uğur A, Özden B, Saç MM, Camgöz B (2011) Biomonitoring of 210Po and 210Pb using lichens and mosses around coal-fired power plants in western Turkey. J Environ Radioact 102:535–542Google Scholar
  42. Steinhauser G, Brandl A, Johnson TE (2014) Comparison of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents: a review of the environmental impacts. Sci Total Environ 470:800–817Google Scholar
  43. Sumerling TJ (1984) The use of mosses as indicators of airborne radionuclides near a major nuclear installation. Sci Total Environ 35:251–265Google Scholar
  44. Szymańska K, Falandysz J, Skwarzec B, Strumińska-Parulska D (2018) 210Po and 210Pb in forest mushrooms of genus Leccinum and topsoil from northern Poland and its contribution to the radiation dose. Chemosphere 213:133–140Google Scholar
  45. Tsikritzis LI (2005) Chemometrics of the distribution and origin of 226Ra, 228Ra, 40K and 137Cs in plants near the West Macedonia Lignite Center (Greece). J Radioanal Nucl Chem 264:651–656Google Scholar
  46. Uğur A, Özden B, Saç MM, Yener G (2003) Biomonitoring of 210Po and 210Pb using lichens and mosses around a uraniferous coal-fired power plant in western Turkey. Atmos Environ 37:2237–2245Google Scholar
  47. Uğur A, Özden B, Yener G, Saç MM, Kurucu Y, Altınbaş Ü, Bolca M (2009) Distributions of 210Pb around a uraniferous coal-fired power plant in western Turkey. Environ Monit Assess 149(1–4):195–200Google Scholar
  48. UNSCEAR (2000) Sources and effects of ionizing radiation. Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of atomic radiation to the General Assembly. United Nations, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. Wattanavatee K, Krmar M, Bhongsuwan T (2017) A survey of natural terrestrial and airborne radionuclides in moss samples from the peninsular Thailand. J Environ Radioact 177:113–127Google Scholar
  50. Wu F, Zheng J, Liao H, Yamada M, Wan G (2011) Anomalous plutonium isotopic ratios in sediments of Lake Qinghai from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. Environ Sci Technol 45:9188–9194Google Scholar
  51. Zeng Y, Zhang X, Zhou W, Qi Y (2007) On the source of radioisotope 137Cs in the surface sediments of Lake Qinghai. J Lake Sci 19:516–521 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal ResearchEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Science, Centre for Marine Ecosystems ResearchEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Nuclear Resources and EnvironmentEast China University of TechnologyNanchangPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations