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Level, distribution and sources of plutonium in the coastal areas of China

  • Zhang, Weichao
  • Hou, Xiaolin
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
Online Research Database In Technology
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Plutonium is an important radioactive element in view of its biological toxicity and environmental impact. The two most important isotopes of plutonium, <sup>239</sup>Pu and <sup>240</sup>Pu, in the surface soil from the coastal area of China were determined using radiochemical separation combined with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) measurement. The average of the measured <sup>240</sup>Pu/<sup>239</sup>Pu atomic ratios in all these samples is 0.186 ± 0.021, which is in good agreement with the ratio of global fallout of the nuclear weapons tests. This indicates that the major source of plutonium in this region is global fallout, and there is no measurable release of plutonium from any nuclear power plant along the coast of China. The <sup>239,240</sup>Pu concentrations in all 71 soil samples range from 0.002 mBq/g to 0.670 mBq/g, which fall in the range of the reported values in the background area not directly influenced by nuclear activities. The anthropogenic disturbance of sampling sites, vegetation coverage of land, precipitation rate and organic substance content and erosion of soil have significant influence on the level of plutonium in the surface soil.

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