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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 19 No. 3, p. 464-469
    Received: Aug 1, 1989

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Leaching of Radionuclides from Decaying Blueberry Leaves: Relative Rate Independent of Concentration

  1. S. C. Sheppard * and
  2. W. G. Evenden
  1. Environ. Res. Branch, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Whiteshell Nuclear Res. Establishment, Pinawa, MB, Canada R0E 1L0.



Leaching of radionuclides from decaying vegetation has not been extensively investigated, especially for radionuclides other than 137Cs. We obtained leaves of blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium × V. corymbosum) that contained over 25-fold ranges in Se, Cs, and I concentrations, as well as a small quantity of leaves containing detectable U. All were contaminated by way of root uptake. Leaching took place for a period of 1 yr in the laboratory, using leach water from forest litter. Monthly, measurements were made of the radionuclide contents and decaying leaf dry weights. The data conformed to an exponential decay model with two first-order components. In no case did the relative loss rates vary systematically with the initial tissue radionuclide concentrations. Loss rates decreased in the order Cs > I > U > dry wt. > Se. Because of the low leaching rate of Se relative to the loss of dry weight, decaying litter may actually accumulate elements such as Se. Accumulation of radionuclides in litter could have important implications for lateral transport, recycling, and direct incorporation into edible mushrooms.

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