129I in Swedish rivers: Distribution and sources

A. Kekli, A. Aldahan, M. Meili, G. Possnert, N. Buraglio, R. Stepanauskas

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23 Citations (Scopus)


We analyzed the concentration of 129I in the water of 26 rivers covering most of the runoff from Sweden, with the aim of assessing current contamination levels, distribution patterns and potential sources in freshwater systems of northern Europe. The results show relatively high values (up to 1.4×109 atoms l-1), steeply decreasing levels with increasing latitude and a positive correlation with Cl concentration and other chemical parameters. The 129I concentrations observed in south Sweden are probably the highest ever recorded in rivers without any direct discharge from a nuclear installation. The strong latitudinal dependence suggests a northward dilution and possibly depletion of the isotope and a transport from a source located to the south. The most plausible source of the 129I in the studied rivers is atmospheric fallout of 129I emitted either by atmospheric discharges from the nuclear reprocessing facilities at Sellafield (England) and La Hague (France) or by volatilization from seawater contaminated by the same sources. The question is now whether and at what rate the 129I concentration in Nordic watersheds will increase further if discharges from nuclear reprocessing continue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-172
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 20 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • AMS
  • Iodine-129
  • Radioactive isotopes
  • Rivers
  • Sweden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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