Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 627–634 | Cite as

Long-range transported biomass-burning aerosols from large-scale wildfires in Russia and surrounding regions with respect to radioactive tracers

  • Ekaterini Dalaka
  • Maria I. Gini
  • Evangelia Diapouli
  • Konstantinos EleftheriadisEmail author


Biomass burning caused by anthropogenic activity such as agriculture-burning periods (common practice during harvesting, post-harvesting, or preplanting) or naturally occurring forest fires, and domestic biofuel combustion is a frequent phenomenon causing global concern. Agricultural burning, although restricted in some countries, significantly contributes to regional air-quality deterioration and national emissions. This work focuses on atmospheric measurements at the suburbs of Athens, on August 2010, during extensive forest fires in the European Russian central plains. The effect of these fires on the measured concentrations of specific radioactive isotopes and biomass-burning tracers was studied, for long-range transport of aerosols from Russian plains. Mean total beta radioactivity was found more than 2.5 times higher during the incident compared to background values. High values were also reported for the isotope 40K, and its fluctuations were following the course of the event. 7Be showed no significant difference between the two periods, which is expected due to its origin. During the event 234Th (238U), activity concentrations were also detected. Their fluctuations showed no significant correlation with the course of the event. The average values during the period before and right after the incident is for organic carbon 2.74 μg/m3, elemental carbon 1.53 μg/m3, and for carbonate carbon 0.16 μg/m3. During the incident, the highest values were observed on August 18, with concentrations for organic carbon 5.49 μg/m3, elemental carbon 0.64 μg/m3, and carbonate carbon 0.32 μg/m3. This fact may be considered as an indicator of biomass-burning incident during the period 12–19 August 2010.


Wildfire event Long-range transport Biomass-burning aerosol Radioactive aerosol Potassium-40 Total beta 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the European Space Agency for providing data from ATSR-WFA, from the Data User Element.

Funding information

This work is supported by the project “NCSRD—INRASTES research activities in the framework of the national RIS3” (MIS 5002559) which is implemented under the “Action for the Strategic Development on the Research and Technological Sector,” funded by the Operational Program “Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation” (NSRF 2014-2020) and co-financed by Greece and the European Union (European Regional Development Fund).


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Copyright information

© Springer Media B.V., onderdeel van Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NCSR “Demokritos,” Environmental Radioactivity LaboratoryInstitute of Nuclear Technology-Radiation ProtectionAthensGreece
  2. 2.Nuclear Engineering Department, School of Mechanical EngineeringNational Technical Uniersity of AthensAthensGreece

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