Classification of hot particles from the Chernobyl accident and nuclear weapons detonations by non-destructive methods

J Environ Radioact. 2001;57(2):151-66. doi: 10.1016/s0265-931x(01)00013-3.


Both after the Chernobyl accident and nuclear weapon detonations, agglomerates of radioactive material, so-called hot particles, were released or formed which show a behaviour in the environment quite different from the activity released in gaseous or aerosol form. The differences in their characteristic properties, in the radionuclide composition and the uranium and actinide contents are described in detail for these particles. While nuclear bomb hot particles (both from fission and fusion bombs) incorporate well detectable trace amounts of 60Co and 152Eu, these radionuclides are absent in Chernobyl hot particles. In contrast, Chernobyl hot particles contain 125Sb and 144Ce which are absent in atomic bomb HPs. Obvious differences are also observable between fusion and fission bombs' hot particles (significant differences in 152Eu/l55Eu, 154Eu/155Eu and 238Pu/239Pu ratios) which facilitate the identification of HPs of unknown provensence. The ratio of 239Pu/240Pu in Chernobyl hot particles could be determined by a non-destructive method at 1:1.5. A non-destructive method to determine the content of non-radioactive elements by Kalpha-emission measurements was developed by which inactive Zr, Nb, Fe and Ni could be verified in the particles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Nuclear Warfare*
  • Power Plants*
  • Radioactive Fallout
  • Radioactive Hazard Release*
  • Radioactive Pollutants / classification*
  • Radioisotopes / classification
  • Reference Values
  • Ukraine


  • Radioactive Fallout
  • Radioactive Pollutants
  • Radioisotopes