Depth profiling of Pu, 241Am and 137Cs in soils from southern Belarus measured by ICP-MS and α and γ spectrometry

Sergei F. Boulyga, Myroslav Zoriy, Michael E. Ketterer, J. Sabine Becker

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39 Scopus citations


The depth distribution of plutonium, americium, and 137Cs originating from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was investigated in several soil profiles in the vicinity from Belarus. The vertical migration of transuranic elements in soils typical of the 30 km relocation area around Chernobyl NPP was studied using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), alpha spectrometry, and gamma spectrometry. Transuranic concentrations in upper soil layers ranged from 6 × 10 -12 g g-1 to 6 × 10-10 g g-1 for plutonium and from 1.8 × 10-13 g g-1 to 1.6 × 10-11 g g-1 for americium. These concentrations correspond to specific activities of 239+240Pu of 24-2400 Bq kg -1 and specific activity of 241Am of 23-2000 Bq kg -1, respectively. Transuranics in turf-podzol soil migrate slowly to the deeper soil layers, thus, 80-95% of radionuclide inventories were present in the 0-3 cm intervals of turf-podzol soils collected in 1994. In peat-marsh soil migration processes occur more rapidly than in turf-podzol and the maximum concentrations are found beneath the soil surface (down to 3-6 cm). The depth distributions of Pu and Am are essentially identical for a given soil profile. 239+240Pu/137Cs and 241Am/137Cs activity ratios vary by up to a factor of 5 at some sites while smaller variations in these ratios were observed at a site close to Chernobyl, suggesting that 137Cs is dominantly particle associated close to Chernobyl but volatile species of 137Cs are of relatively greater importance at the distant sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-666
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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