Ecological half-time of radiocesium from Chernobyl debris and from nuclear weapons fallout as measured in a group of subjects from the south of Sweden

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Abstract

From 1960 to 1980 and between 1987 and 1994 the whole-body content of 17Cs, and when possible also 134Cs, was measured in a group of subjects living in the city of Lund, Sweden (55.7 degrees N, 13.2 degrees E). The results have been analyzed to estimate the effective ecological half-time of fallout radiocesium in humans living in the area. The Lund area (The Province of Skane) was subjected to a deposition of about 2 kBq m(-2) of pre-Chernobyl 137Cs from nuclear weapons testing and 1 kBq m(-2) of 137Cs from Chernobyl fallout in May 1986. The radiocesium from the nuclear weapons tests in the 1950's and 1960's still gave a significant contribution to the total 137Cs levels in humans in the post-Chernobyl study period (1987-1994) of about 0.4 Bq per kg body weight, which was about 10% of the peak post-Chernobyl concentration level of 137Cs (3.5-4 Bq kg(-1)) in 1987. The effective ecological half-time for 137Cs from Chernobyl was found to be 1.8 +/- 0.2 y. The aggregate transfer factor from deposition to mean activity concentration in man was estimated to be 3.6 Bq kg(-1)/kBq m(-2). These values may be compared with an effective ecological half-time of 1.3 y found in the reference group in the 1960's, and an aggregate transfer factor of 10 Bq kg(-1)/kBq m(-2). This difference is largely explained by the continuous nature of the global fallout leading to contamination on growing crops whereas the Chernobyl fallout occurred just prior to the South Swedish growing season, leading to less efficient transfer to crops and to human diet. The average committed individual effective dose (50 y) from ingested 137Cs from the Chernobyl fallout was estimated to be 0.02 mSv and from the nuclear weapons fallout (1945-1995) to be 0.20 mSv.

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  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-377
JournalHealth Physics
Volume81
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes