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Intake of Radionuclides in the Trees of Fukushima Forests 1. Field Study

1
Department of Bioscience, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Tokyo 156-8502, Japan
2
Department of Radiation Protection, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, Minamisoma, Fukushima 960-1296, Japan
3
Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere, Kyoto University, Kyoto 611-0011, Japan
4
Department of Forest Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Tokyo 156-8502, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(8), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10080652
Received: 27 May 2019 / Revised: 21 July 2019 / Accepted: 23 July 2019 / Published: 2 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecophysiology and Biology)
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Abstract

The earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 led to a meltdown followed by a hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima–Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, causing the dispersal of abundant radionuclides into the atmosphere and ocean. The radionuclides were deposited onto trees and local residences in aerosol or gaseous forms that were partly absorbed by rain or melting snow. Here, we show that the radionuclides attached to the surfaces of trees, in which some radiocesium was incorporated into the xylem through ray cells and through symplastic pathways. The level of incorporated radiocesium varied based on tree species and age because of the ability of radiocesium to attach to the surface of the outer bark. After four years, the radiocesium level in the forest has been decreasing as it is washed out with rainwater into the sea and as it decays over time due to its half-life, but it can also be continuously recycled through leaf tissue, litter, mulch, and soil. As a result, the level of radiocesium was relatively increased in the heartwood and roots of trees at four years after the event. In private forest fields, most trees were left as afforested trees without being used for timber, although some trees were cut down. We discuss an interdisciplinary field study on the immediate effects of high radiation levels upon afforested trees in private forest fields. View Full-Text
Keywords: Fukushima; radiocesium dispersal; radiocesium infiltration; afforested trees; private forests; farmers’ relatedness Fukushima; radiocesium dispersal; radiocesium infiltration; afforested trees; private forests; farmers’ relatedness
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Yasukawa, C.; Aoki, S.; Nonaka, M.; Itakura, M.; Tsubokura, M.; Baba, K.; Ohbayashi, H.; Sugawara, I.; Seyama, T.; Uehara, I.; Kaida, R.; Taji, T.; Sakata, Y.; Hayashi, T. Intake of Radionuclides in the Trees of Fukushima Forests 1. Field Study. Forests 2019, 10, 652.

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