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Impact of Saharan dust events on radionuclide levels in Monaco air and in the water column of the northwest Mediterranean Sea

AuthorsPham, M. K.; Chamizo, Elena ; Mas Balbuena, José Luis; Miquel, Juan-Carlos; Martín, Jacobo ; Osvath, Iolanda; Povinec, Pavel P.
KeywordsAir monitoring
Saharan dust
Northwest Mediterranean
Sediment trap
Issue Date2017
CitationJournal of Environmental Radioactivity 166(1): 2-9 (2017)
AbstractCharacterization of atmospheric aerosols collected in Monaco (2004–2008) and in sediment traps at 200 m and 1000 m water depths at the DYFAMED (Dynamics of Atmospheric Fluxes in the Mediterranean Sea) station (2004) was carried out to improve our understanding of the impact of Saharan dust on ground-level air and on the water column. Activity concentrations of natural (Pb, Po, uranium and radium isotopes) and anthropogenic (Cs, Pu, Pu, and Pu) radionuclides and their isotopic ratios confirmed a Saharan impact on the investigated samples. In association with a large particulate matter deposition event in Monaco on 20 February 2004, the Cs (∼40 Bq kg) and Pu (∼1 Bq kg) activities were almost a factor of two higher than other Saharan deposition dust events. This single-day particle flux represented 72% of the annual atmospheric deposition in Monaco. The annual deposition of Saharan dust on the sea was 232–407 mBq m for Cs and 6.8–9.8 mBq m for Pu and contributed significantly (28–37% for Cs and 34–45% for Pu) to the total annual atmospheric input to the northwest Mediterranean Sea. The Cs/Pu activity ratios in dust samples collected during different Saharan dust events confirmed their global fallout origin or mixing with local re-suspended soil particles. In the sediment trap samples the Cs activity varied by a factor of two, while the Pu activity was constant, confirming the different behaviors of Cs (dissolved) and Pu (particle reactive) in the water column. The Cs and Pu activities of sinking particles during the period of the highest mass flux collected in 20 February 2004 at the 200 m and 1000 m water depths represented about 10% and 15%, respectively, of annual deposition from Saharan dust events.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2016.04.014
e-issn: 1879-1700
issn: 0265-931X
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