Study of the behavior of tritium

Staff members of Institute of Radiation Safety and Ecology NNC RK have been engaged in research into tritium behaviour in environmental objects, its accumulation by plants and redistribution processes including OBT for the last few years. Experiments with various crops are conducted both in greenhouse conditions and in full-scale conditions of tritium contamination at Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS).

Man-made tritium is the radioactive isotope of hydrogen, which is capable of penetrating into a human body bot only by inhalation but also with foodstuffs, in particular, with crop products. Unfortunately, as of today conventional procedures take into account tritium contribution to a dose only in tritiated water (НТО) and greatly underestimate its hazard hen incorporated in the organic matter (organically bound tritium – OBT). Besides, it is necessary to note that the half-life of НТО from a human body is 10 days, and that of OBT – over a yearа!

This June another experiment was set up in the territory of the former ‘Degelen’ site in the vicinity of the radioactive stream flow from one of tunnels. Lettuce (Lactuca Sativa) became an experimental crop. Based upon results, data will be obtained on transfer parameters of tritium from air to plants. These parameters can further be used when assessing the quality of crop products and for calculating population doses.