Determination of (129)I and (127)I concentration in soil samples from the Chernobyl 30-km zone by AMS and ICP-MS

J Radiat Res. 2009 Jul;50(4):325-32. doi: 10.1269/jrr.08118. Epub 2009 Jun 20.


A large amount of radioiodine isotopes (mainly (131)I, t(1/2) = 8 days) was released from the accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP) in April-May 1986. An increase in childhood-thyroid cancer in the contaminated areas in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine was demonstrated to be caused by radioiodine released at the time of the accident. However, there is a lack of quantitative data on the (131)I levels in the local environment (e.g. air, plant, soil). At this point, a long-lived iodine isotope, (129)I (t(1/2) = 15.7 million years), also released with a certain ratio to (131)I from CNPP, could be used for estimating the (131)I levels in the environment. In this paper we present analytical results of the (129)I concentrations and (129)I/(127)I atom ratios in soil samples collected from the CNPP exclusion zone (30-km zone), with the aim of assessing current contamination levels and distribution patterns. For the analysis of the iodine fraction in the investigated soil samples, the pyrohydrolysis method was utilized for separation of (127)I and (129)I nuclides, and subsequently their concentration was determined using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), respectively. The concentration of (129)I and the (129)I/(127)I atom ratio in the surface soil samples in the 30 km-zone of CNPP ranged from 4.6 to 170 mBq/kg, and from 1.4 x 10(-6) to 13 x 10(-6), respectively. These values are significantly higher than those from global (129)I fallout, indicating that most of the measured (129)I was due to the deposition of the accident. Stable iodine concentrations in this area were found to be very low (below 1 ppm) for most of the samples, suggesting the environmental iodine levels in this area to be potentially low. The (129)I/(137)Cs activity ratio in surface and sub-surface soils was not so constant, i.e., in the range (7.3-20.2) x 10(-7). This might be due to the different behavior of deposition and/or migration of these nuclides in soil. These results suggest the obtained data of (129)I to be useful for the reconstruction of the (131)I deposition in the contaminated areas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident*
  • Iodine Isotopes / analysis*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / analysis*
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Power Plants
  • Radiation Monitoring / methods*
  • Radioactive Hazard Release*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis*
  • Ukraine


  • Iodine Isotopes
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive