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Temporal Variations in Radionuclide Activity (7Be and 210Pb) in Surface Aerosols at a Coastal Site in Southeastern China

Category: Aerosol and Atmospheric Chemistry

Volume: 19 | Issue: 9 | Pages: 1969-1979
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.02.0084
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Dekun Huang 1, Hongyan Bao2, Tao Yu1

  • 1 Laboratory of Marine Isotopic Technology and Environmental Risk Assessment, Third Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resource, Xiamen 361005, China
  • 2 State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, College of Ocean and Earth Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361102, China


  • 210Pb activity in Xiamen was high in the reported regions.
  • The overall 7Be activity was related to latitude.
  • Temporal variations in 7Be and 210Pb were both related to temperature in 2013–2015.
  • 210Pb activity was significantly correlated with PM2.5.


Monitoring radionuclides in aerosols is critical to understanding the factors influencing the temporal variations in the atmospheric deposition of elements such as 7Be and 210Pb, which are frequently used as tracers in atmospheric studies. However, long-term monitoring at a high temporal resolution remains limited, especially in Asia. Therefore, in this study, we measured the radioactivity of the 7Be and 210Pb in surface aerosols collected on a weekly basis in a coastal city (Xiamen) in southeastern China from 2013 to 2015 (110 samples in total). The activity of the 7Be and 210Pb ranged from 0.17 to 9.84 mBq m–3 (mean: 4.37 ± 2.65 mBq m–3) and from 0.17 to 3.31 mBq m–3 (mean: 1.26 ± 0.78 mBq m–3), respectively. Compared to reports from other regions, the 210Pb activity, on average, was high, which may be related to the elevated 226Ra activity in the soil in southeastern China. Also, the annual mean of the 7Be activity was significantly correlated with latitude in the coastal region. Despite the difference in origin, the weekly 7Be and 210Pb activity was significantly correlated (r = 0.679, p < 0.001, n = 110) and showed similar temporal variations, with higher values during the cold dry season. The activity of both radionuclides was negatively correlated with the temperature and precipitation and positively correlated with the fine particle (PM2.5) concentration. The combined effective dose of the 7Be and 210Pb is approximately 5.7% of the limit for humans; thus, natural radioactivity should be considered as a potential threat to human health, especially in regions with high PM2.5 concentrations.


7Be 210Pb Aerosol Coastal city Environmental radioactivity

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