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Ciba Found Symp. 1997;203:109-16; discussion 117-9, 139-40.

Health impacts of large releases of radionuclides. The fate and impact of radiocontaminants in urban areas.

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Environmental Science and Technology Department, Risø National Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark.


The Chernobyl accident made it clear that the contaminants released after a severe nuclear accident may spread over large areas, and thereby form a significant external radiation hazard in areas of high population density. Since then, the weathering effects on the deposited radiocontaminants (essentially radiocaesium) have been followed on different types of surface in urban, suburban and industrial areas in order to enable an estimation of the long-term impact of such events. Analytical expressions have been derived for the typical behaviour of radiocaesium on the different surfaces, and dose measurements and calculations for different urban environments have pinpointed which surfaces generally contribute most to the dose and consequently are most important to clean. At this point, after nearly a decade, the dose rate from horizontal pavements has decreased by at least a factor of 10, whereas the dose rate from an area of soil or a roof has generally only been halved. The contamination on walls is the most persistent: it has only decreased by 10-20%.

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