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Impact of an exceptional Saharan dust outbreak in France: PM10 and artificial radionuclides concentrations in air and in dust deposit

Atmospheric Environment / Volume 44, Issue 20, June 2010, Pages 2478-2486

Document type > *Article de revue

Keywords >

Research Unit > IRSN/DEI/STEME/LMRE, IRSN/DEI/SESURE/LERCM, IRSN/DEI/SESURE/LVRE

Authors > MASSON Olivier, PIGA Damien, GURRIARAN Rodolfo, D'AMICO Donato

Publication Date > 01/06/2010

Summary

The present study focuses on the exceptional Saharan dust event that affected most of France in February 2004. Activity levels of various artificial radionuclides (90Sr, 137Cs, uranium, thorium and plutonium isotopes, 241Am) were examined. Activity or isotopic ratios are discussed in the context of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, among them French tests performed in Sahara in the 1960s. The daily evolution of 137Cs activity levels in the atmosphere was compared to daily PM10 change. A link between airborne 137Cs and PM10, is given. It is estimated that this 2-day event deposited as much 137Cs as would be deposited on average over a 10-month period. The amount of deposited 137Cs and 239+240Pu represents respectively about 0.1 and 1% of the activity already present in the soil. Such Saharan dust events correspond to an extreme type of “feeder” process of artificial radionuclides in the atmosphere. Therefore, they contribute to the long term background level of artificial radionuclides kept at trace levels in the atmosphere.

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