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Geochemical Journal
Geochemical Journal An open access journal for geochemistry
Published for geochemistry community from Geochemical Society of Japan.

Characterization of hydrocarbons in aerosols and investigation of biogenic sources as a carrier of radiocesium isotopes

Mayuko Nakagawa, Keita Yamada, Sakae Toyoda, Kazuyuki Kita, Yasuhito Igarashi, Shingo Komatsu, Kentaro Yamada, Naohiro Yoshida
Geochemical Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2, P. 163-172, 2018


In this study, the potential natural sources of secondary radiocesium isotope (134Cs and 137Cs) emissions were investigated, with a focus on n-alkanes, a characteristic bioaerosol compound. Monitoring was performed to obtain a time series of aerosol, samples, from winter 2013 to summer 2014, and size-resolved aerosol samples in 2012 and 2014. Samples were collected from the area heavily contaminated after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011. A correlation analysis of radiocesium, n-alkanes, and black carbon concentrations was performed to identify the contributions of aerosols from biogenic and anthropogenic sources. Biogenic n-alkanes exhibited similar concentration ranges except for spring 2014. The continuous input of biogenic n-alkanes is characteristic of a sampling site surrounded by forest, where pollen dispersion increased the concentration of biogenic n-alkanes in spring 2014. On the other hand, anthropogenic n-alkane concentrations were significantly increased in spring and summer 2014 (>50 ng/m3), compared with those prior to winter 2014 (<20 ng/m3). This anthropogenic n-alkane increase represents the beginning of reconstruction near the area. The carbon preference index (CPI) clearly showed biogenic n-alkanes with coarse-sized particles (CPI > 3), and more anthropogenic n-alkanes were contained in fine particle aerosols. Our results showed that radiocesium and biogenic n-alkane concentrations in seasonal and size-resolved aerosol samples have a partially positive correlation, which supports the hypothesis that the secondary emissions of radionuclides occurred in the forested areas.


secondary radioactive emission, radiocesium, n-alkane, biogenic sources, aerosols

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