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J Environ Radioact. 2007;97(1):70-5. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

Ecological half-life of 137Cs in lichens in an alpine region.

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Division of Physics and Biophysics, Department of Materials Engineering and Physics, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunner Strasse 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.


About 17 years after the Chernobyl accident, lichen samples were collected in an alpine region in Austria (Bad Gastein), which was heavily contaminated by the Chernobyl fallout. Measured 137Cs activity concentrations in selected lichens (Cetraria islandica, Cetraria cucullata, and Cladonia arbuscula) ranged from 100 to 1100 Bq kg(-1) dry weight, depending on lichen species and sampling site. Ecological half-lives for 137Cs in different lichen samples, obtained by comparison with earlier measurements of the same lichen species at the same site, ranged from 2 to 6 years, with average values between 3 and 4 years. Comparison with earlier studies indicated that ecological half-lives hardly changed during the last 10 years, suggesting that ecological clearance mechanisms (e.g. washout or soil transfer) did not vary substantially at the selected sampling area.

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