Influence of variable oxygen concentration on the combustion derived release of radiocesium from boreal soil and peat

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Sammanfattning

Radiocesium, 137Cs, is one of the most common and dispersed human-made radionuclides. Substantial stocks of 137Cs are stored in organic layers, like soils and peat, as a consequence of nuclear weapons fallout and accidental releases. As climate warming progresses these organic layers are subject to enhanced risks of wildfires, especially in the vast boreal biome of the northern hemisphere. Reemission of 137Cs to the atmosphere is therefore presumed to increase. Here, we experimentally investigated the emissions and redistribution of 137Cs in smoldering fires of boreal soil and peat by varying the oxygen concentration during combustion. For both soil and peat, significantly more 137Cs was released through flaming combustion in 21% O2 (50% and 31%, respectively) compared to smoldering in reduced O2 environments (14% and 8%, respectively). The residual ashes were heavily enriched (>100%) in 137Cs. Hence, after a wildfire induced volatilization of 137Cs, there exists further pathways of 137Cs enriched ash to proliferate in the environment. These results serve as a link between wildfire combustion conditions and the mobility of the 137Cs inventory found in ground fuels of the boreal environment and can be valuable for radiological risk assessments in a warmer and a more nuclear energy reliant world.
Originalspråkengelska
Artikelnummer152725
Antal sidor7
TidskriftScience of the Total Environment
Volym815
DOI
StatusPublished - 2022 apr. 1

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Miljövetenskap
  • Skogsvetenskap
  • Markvetenskap

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