Plutonium Properties

Several chemical characteristics affect plutonium solubility, its fate and transport in the environment, the route of exposure, biological uptake efficiency, biological half-life, and retention in target organs. First, plutonium shows strong affinities for mineral, biological, and other surfaces. This leads to its association with

Pu-238 Pu-239/Pu-240

Environmentalmedia (Bqkg1) (molkg1) (Bqkg1) (molkg1)

Plutonium in soils Natural Pu-239 Man-made Pu: average Man-made Pu: point sources

Plutonium in sediments Man-made

Plutonium in oceans Man-made

Plutonium in rivers Man-made n/a

(molm3)

1.0E-04a

0.2-466c,d

4E-15 to 3E—11d 1.5E—13 to 9E-13d,e aTaylor DM (2001) Environmental plutonium - Creation of the universe to twenty-first century mankind. In: Kudo A (ed.) Plutonium in the Environment:

Edited Proceedings of the Second Invited International Symposium, pp. 1-14. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

bHardy EP, Krey PW, and Volchok HL (1973) Global inventory and distribution of fallout plutonium. Nature 241: 444-445.

cLiator MI (1999) Plutonium contamination in soils in open space and residential areas near Rocky Flats, Colorado. Health Physics 76: 172-179.

dWatters RL, Edington DN, Hakonson TE, et al. (1980) Synthesis of research literature. In: Hanson WC (ed.) Transuranic Elements in the Environment,

DOE/TIC-22800, pp. 1-44. Oak Ridge, TN: US Department of Energy.

eTrapeznikov AV, Pozolotina VN, Chebotina M Ya, etal. (1993) Radioactive contamination oftheTecha River in the Urals. Health Physics 65:481-488.

aerosols and particles in the atmosphere, plant surfaces and soil particles, sediments in rivers and oceans, as well as mineral colloids and bacterial membranes in groundwater systems. Second, the redox chemistry and chemical speciation of plutonium in aqueous systems, such as natural waters, biological media, or liquid-particle aerosols, are complex. For example, although under most oxidizing conditions the dominant oxidation states are IV and V, plutonium can potentially coexist at up to four oxidation states (III, IV, V, VI) in the same solution. Furthermore, organic and inorganic ligands, such as humic substances, carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates form complexes with plutonium, which may change its sorption and bioavailability characteristics. Plutonium hydrolysis reactions also play an important role due to the low solubility of the Pu(IV)-hydrolysis products. Ultimately, all these processes depend on solution conditions such as pH, redox conditions, ionic strength, and temperature. For atmospheric aerosols, however, photochemical reactions and interactions with free radicals may also be of importance.

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