Fractionation of radionuclide species in the environment

J Environ Radioact. 2009 Apr;100(4):283-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.12.013. Epub 2009 Jan 26.


Naturally occurring and artificially produced radionuclides in the environment may be present in different physico-chemical forms (i.e., radionuclide species) varying in size (nominal molecular mass), charge properties and valence, oxidation state, structure and morphology, density, degree of complexation, etc. Low molecular mass (LMM) species are believed to be mobile and potentially bioavailable, while high molecular mass (HMM) species such as colloids, polymers, pseudocolloids and particles are considered inert. Due to time-dependent transformation processes such as mobilisation of radionuclide species from solid phases or interactions of mobile and reactive radionuclide species with components in soils and sediments, the original distribution of radionuclides deposited in ecosystems will change over time. To assess the environmental impact from radionuclide contamination, information on radionuclide species deposited, interactions within affected ecosystems and the time-dependent distribution of radionuclide species influencing mobility and biological uptake is essential. The development of speciation techniques to characterize radionuclide species in waters, soils and sediments should therefore be essential for improving the prediction power of impact and risk assessment models. The present paper reviews available fractionation techniques which can be utilised for radionuclide speciation purposes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Fractionation / methods*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Radioactive Pollutants / analysis*
  • Radioisotopes / chemistry*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Radioactive Pollutants
  • Radioisotopes