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Environ Sci Technol. 2014;48(1):182-9. doi: 10.1021/es4047439. Epub 2013 Dec 16.

Influence of radioactivity on surface charging and aggregation kinetics of particles in the atmosphere.

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Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0373, United States.


Radioactivity can influence surface interactions, but its effects on particle aggregation kinetics have not been included in transport modeling of radioactive particles. In this research, experimental and theoretical studies have been performed to investigate the influence of radioactivity on surface charging and aggregation kinetics of radioactive particles in the atmosphere. Radioactivity-induced charging mechanisms have been investigated at the microscopic level, and heterogeneous surface potential caused by radioactivity is reported. The radioactivity-induced surface charging is highly influenced by several parameters, such as rate and type of radioactive decay. A population balance model, including interparticle forces, has been employed to study the effects of radioactivity on particle aggregation kinetics in air. It has been found that radioactivity can hinder aggregation of particles because of similar surface charging caused by the decay process. Experimental and theoretical studies provide useful insights into the understanding of transport characteristics of radioactive particles emitted from severe nuclear events, such as the recent accident of Fukushima or deliberate explosions of radiological devices.

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