Sulfate aerosol as a potential transport medium of radiocesium from the fukushima nuclear accident

Naoki Kaneyasu, Hideo Ohashi, Fumie Suzuki, Tomoaki Okuda, Fumikazu Ikemori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Citations (Scopus)


To date, areas contaminated by radionuclides discharged from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident have been mapped in detail. However, size of the radionuclides and their mixing state with other aerosol components, which are critical in their removal from the atmosphere, have not yet been revealed. We measured activity size distributions of 134Cs and 137Cs in aerosols collected 47 days after the accident at Tsukuba, Japan, and found that the activity median aerodynamic diameters of 134Cs and 137Cs in the first sample (April 28-May 12) were 0.54 and 0.53 μm, respectively, and those in the second sample (May 12-26) were both 0.63 μm. The activity size distributions of these radiocesium were within the accumulation mode size range and almost overlapped with the mass size distribution of non-sea-salt sulfate aerosol. From the analysis of other aerosol components, we found that sulfate was the potential transport medium for these radionuclides, and resuspended soil particles that attached radionuclides were not the major airborne radioactive substances at the time of measurement. This explains the relatively similar activity sizes of radiocesium measured at various sites during the Chernobyl accident. Our results can serve as basic data for modeling the transport/deposition of radionuclides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5720-5726
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun 5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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