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Uranium mill tailings (UMT) are a high volume, low specific activity radioactive waste typically disposed in surface impoundments. This review focuses on research on UMT and related earth materials during the past decade relevant to the assessment of: (1) mineral hosts of radionuclides; (2) the use of soil analogs in predicting long-term fate of radionuclides; (3) microbial and diagenetic processes that may alter radionuclide mobility in the surficial environment; (4) waste-management technologies to limit radionuclide migration; and (5) the impact of UMT on biota.
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The long-lived radionuclide 129I (half-life: 15.7 × 106 yr) is well-known as a useful environmental tracer. At present, the global 129I in surface water is about 1–2 orders of magnitude higher than pre-1960 levels. Since the 1990s, anthropogenic 129I produced from industrial nuclear fuels reprocessing plants has been the primary source of 129I in marine surface waters of the Atlantic and around the globe. Here we present four coral 129I time series records from: 1) Con Dao and 2) Xisha Islands, the South China Sea, 3) Rabaul, Papua New Guinea and 4) Guam. The Con Dao coral 129I record features a sudden increase in 129I in 1959. The Xisha coral shows similar peak values for 129I as the Con Dao coral, punctuated by...
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Concentrations of Ra in liquid and solid wastes generated from 15 softeners treating domestic well waters from New Jersey Coastal Plain aquifers (where combined Ra (226Ra plus 228Ra) concentrations commonly exceed 0.185 Bq L−1) were determined. Softeners, when maintained, reduced combined Ra about 10-fold (<0.024 Bq L−1). Combined Ra exceeded 0.185 Bq L−1 at 1 non-maintained system. Combined Ra was enriched in regeneration brine waste (maximum, 81.2 Bq L−1), but concentrations in septic-tank effluents receiving brine waste were less than in the untreated ground waters. The maximum combined Ra concentration in aquifer sands (40.7 Bq kg−1 dry weight) was less than that in sludge from the septic tanks (range, 84–363...
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Understanding iodine concentration, transport, and bioavailability is essential in evaluating iodine's impact to the environment and its effectiveness as an environmental biogeotracer. While iodine and its radionuclides have proven to be important tracers in geologic and biologic studies, little is known about transport of this element to the deep sea and subsequent uptake in deep-sea coral habitats. Results presented here on deep-sea black coral iodine speciation and iodine isotope variability provides key information on iodine behavior in natural and anthropogenic environments, and its geochemical pathway in the Gulf of Mexico. Organo-iodine is the dominant iodine species in the black corals, demonstrating that...
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Marine mammals being in the top predator in the food web tend to accumulate organic and inorganic contaminants from the environment. The body burden of contaminants in these species could reflect their foods and thus contaminant levels could serve as proxies on the changes of ecosystem. A pilot study was carried out to investigate the possibility of radionuclide leakage at Amchitka using a suite of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) skulls collected near Amchitka nuclear test-sites before (1950s) and after the testing (1990s), and at Adak, another Aleutian Island, about 300 km from Amchitka, where the potential impact of radionuclide leakage from Amchitka is expected to be negligible. In addition, the naturally occurring...
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Marine mammals being among the top predators in the food web tend to accumulate organic and inorganic contaminants from the environment. The body burden of contaminants in these species could reflect their foods and thus contaminant levels could serve as proxies on the changes of ecosystem. A pilot study was carried out to investigate the possibility of radionuclide leakage at Amchitka using a suite of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) skulls collected near Amchitka nuclear test-sites before (1950s) and after the testing (1990s), and at Adak, another Aleutian Island, about 300 km from Amchitka, where the potential impact of radionuclide leakage from Amchitka is expected to be negligible. In addition, the naturally occurring...
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Fate of radium (Ra) in liquid regeneration brine wastes from water softeners disposed to septic tanks in the New Jersey Coastal Plain was studied. Before treatment, combined Ra (226Ra plus 228Ra) concentrations (maximum, 1.54 Bq L−1) exceeded the 0.185 Bq L−1 Maximum Contaminant Level in 4 of 10 studied domestic-well waters (median pH, 4.90). At the water table downgradient from leachfields, combined Ra concentrations were low (commonly ≤0.019 Bq L−1) when pH was >5.3, indicating sequestration; when pH was ≤5.3 (acidic), concentrations were elevated (maximum, 0.985 Bq L−1 – greater than concentrations in corresponding discharged septic-tank effluents (maximum, 0.243 Bq L−1)), indicating Ra mobilization from leachfield...
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Beryllium-7 is a powerful and commonly used tracer for environmental processes such as watershed sediment provenance, soil erosion, fluvial and nearshore sediment cycling, and atmospheric fallout. However, few studies have quantified temporal or spatial variability of 7Be accumulation from atmospheric fallout, and parameters that would better define the uses and limitations of this geochemical tracer. We investigated the abundance and variability of 7Be in atmospheric deposition in both rain events and dry periods, and in stream surface-water samples collected over a ten-month interval at sites near northern Monterey Bay (37°N, 122°W) on the central California coast, a region characterized by a rainy winters, dry...


    map background search result map search result map Short-term variability of <sup>7</sup>Be atmospheric deposition and watershed response in a Pacific coastal stream, Monterey Bay, California, USA Short-term variability of <sup>7</sup>Be atmospheric deposition and watershed response in a Pacific coastal stream, Monterey Bay, California, USA