Laboratory experiments to predict changes in radiocaesium root uptake after flooding events

Marta Camps, Stephen Hillier, Miquel Vidal, Gemma Rauret

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Changes in soil solution composition after a flooding event were hypothesised to be one of the key factors in explaining changes in radiocaesium incorporation in the food chain in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident. A laboratory methodology was set up to monitor changes in the soil solution composition after a sequence of flooding cycles. Experiments were performed using column and batch approaches on test soils with contrasting initial soil solution composition (high and low initial concentrations of K+). Results from column experiments indicated a potential increase in NH(4)(+) concentrations, a parameter which could lead to an increase in the radiocaesium root uptake. Batch results in the soil with high initial K+ concentration showed that after a number of flooding cycles, especially for high ratios of flooding solution/mass of soil, K+ concentration decreased sometimes below a threshold value (around 0.5-1 mmol l(-1)), a fact that could lead to an increase in radiocaesium transfer. For the soils with a low initial K+ concentration, the flooding solution increased K+ and NH(4)(+) values in the soil solution. The comparison of test soils with soils from Ukraine areas affected by flooding showed that the final stage in soil solution composition was similar in both cases, regardless of the initial composition of the soil solution. Moreover, the comparison with unflooded soils from the same area showed that potential changes in other soil parameters, such as (137)Cs activity concentration, clay content, and radiocaesium interception potential, RIP (a parameter that estimates the radiocaesium specific sorption capacity of a soil), should also be monitored for additional effects due to the flooding event. Therefore, the changes in the root uptake would depend on the resulting situation from changes in RIP, K+ and NH(4)(+) values in the soil solution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-59
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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