The Transfer of Radiostrontium and Radiocesium From Soil to Diet: Models Consistent With Fallout Analyses

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Radiocontaminants deposited on the soil in a temporally-localized contaminating event, such as a major nuclear-reactor accident, can become incorporated into vegetation and thence into the human diet, as a result of absorption from the soil by plant roots. Models are presented to describe the time-development of such dietary contamination by radio-isotopes of strontium and cesium. The characteristics of the local soil are represented in each model by parameters whose evaluation is complicated by their known strong dependence upon soil type (and hence upon geographic location). It is shown how these poorly-determined soil parameters can be specified with some confidence by taking full advantage of predictive formulae which have been developed empirically (by UNSCEAR and by others) from analyses of two decades of localized fallout data; this is achieved by using the models to predict contamination levels due to hypothetical, protracted fallout and comparing the resulting expressions with UNSCEARs predictive formulae.

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