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J Environ Radioact. 2001;53(1):67-73.

Radioactivity in tobacco leaves.

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Atomic and Nuclear Physics Laboratory, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 54006, Greece.


The radioactivity in tobacco leaves collected from 15 different regions of Greece before cigarette production was studied in order to find any association between the uptake of the naturally occurring radionuclides and the isotopes of cesium of Chernobyl origin. The activities of the isotopes of radium, 226Ra and 228Ra, in the tobacco leaves reflected their origin from the soil by root uptake rather than from fertilizers used in the tobacco cultivation. Lead-210 originated from the air and was deposited onto the tobacco leaves and trapped by the trichomes. Potassium-40 in the tobacco leaves was due to root uptake either from soil or from fertilizer. The isotopes of cesium, 137Cs and 134Cs, in the tobacco leaves were due to root uptake and not due to deposition onto the leaf foliage as they still remained in soil four years after the Chernobyl reactor accident but were absent from the atmosphere in rain washout (precipitation) and gravitational settling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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