Radioactive contamination of air as a result of forest fires and its threat to a human health

«Radiation and Risk», 2016, vol. 25, No. 2, pp.100-108


Dvornik A.A.1 – Senior Researcher, C. Sc., Biol. Institute of Radiobiology of National Academy of Science of Belarus. Contacts: 4 Fedyninskogo st., Gomel, Belarus, 246007. Tel. +375-232-57-07-06; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Korol R.A.1 – Researcher. Institute of Radiobiology of National Academy of Science of Belarus.
Gaponenko S.O.1 – Research Assistant. Institute of Radiobiology of National Academy of Science of Belarus.
Dvornik A.M.2 – D.Sc., Biol., Professor. Gomel State University.


The article presents results of experimental assessment of absolute content of 137Cs in combustion aerosols, produced as a result of burning of forest fuel contained different amount of radioactive pollutants. Linear dependence of volume radioactivity of 137Cs in combustion gas on its specific radioactivity in combustible materials was shown. On the basis of obtained experimental data the individual radiation doses to firefighters and the population were calculated. To estimate a greater contributor to individual dose received by a firefighter and a citizen different scenarios of forest fire breaking-out in radioactively contaminated areas were modeled. Radiation dose from external exposure and inhalation dose were found to be the greater contributors to the dose that firefighters received during their work in a contaminated zone. At the same time the contribution of inhalation dose was at most 1% of the total dose that received by a citizen. Inhalation dose to a professional may exceed the reference level during fire-fighting operations in the forest, in which the density of radioactive contamination with 137Cs is 600 kBq/m2 and higher. The inhalation dose to citizens may exceed the reference level if the fire breaks out in the forest, in which the density of contamination is 370 kBq/m2 and higher.

Key words
Forest fires, radioactive contamination, forest fuel materials, smoke aerosols, burning, external exposure, inhalation intake, total dose, reference level, fire scenarios.


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Full-text article (in Russian)