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Presence of artificial radionuclides in samples from potable water and wastewater treatment plants

Martínez, J., Peñalver, A., Baciu, T., Artigues, M., Danús, M., Aguilar, C., Borrull, F.
Journal of environmental radioactivity 2018 v.192 pp. 187-193
cesium, cobalt, drinking water, humans, iodine, nuclear power, power plants, radioactivity, radionuclides, risk, sludge, surface water, wastewater, wastewater treatment
Human activity, such as the operation of nuclear power plants (NPPs) and the use of radionuclides in nuclear medicine, results in the presence of artificial radionuclides in surface waters, which may even reach potable water treatment plants (PWTPs) and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).In this study, water and sludge samples from a PWTP are radiologically monitored. The incoming water of the plant is influenced by the presence of an NPP upstream. Two WWTPs receiving wastewater from medical centres and other origins are also studied. As a result, ¹³¹I, ⁶⁰Co and ¹³⁷Cs have been determined in the dewatered sludge samples from the PWTP, while ¹³¹I, ⁹⁹ᵐTc, ⁶⁷Ga and ¹¹¹In were detected in the sludge samples from the WWTPs. The radionuclide activities in the influent water from the WWTPs studied were lower than the minimum detectable activity values. Therefore, on the basis of our results, the analysis of sludge samples is very useful as it enables the concentration of any radionuclides that may be present in the incoming water.Lastly, as higher activity of ¹³¹I was detected in the samples studied, the total effective dose was assessed for WWTP workers, as they handle dewatered sludge containing this radionuclide. It can be concluded that there is no risk in terms of total exposure.