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Title: Modelling and mitigating dose to firefighters from inhalation of radionuclides in wildland fire smoke

Firefighters responding to wildland fires where surface litter and vegetation contain radiological contamination will receive a radiological dose by inhaling resuspended radioactive material in the smoke. This may increase their lifetime risk of contracting certain types of cancer. Using published data, we modelled hypothetical radionuclide emissions, dispersion and dose for 70th and 97th percentile environmental conditions and for average and high fuel loads at the Savannah River Site. We predicted downwind concentration and potential dose to firefighters for radionuclides of interest (137Cs, 238Pu, 90Sr and 210Po). Predicted concentrations exceeded dose guidelines in the base case scenario emissions of 1.0 × 107 Bq ha–1 for 238Pu at 70th percentile environmental conditions and average fuel load levels for both 4- and 14-h shifts. Under 97th percentile environmental conditions and high fuel loads, dose guidelines were exceeded for several reported cases for 90Sr, 238Pu and 210Po. Potential for exceeding dose guidelines was mitigated by including plume rise (>2 m s–1) or moving a small distance from the fire owing to large concentration gradients near the edge of the fire. As a result, our approach can quickly estimate potential dose from airborne radionuclides in wildland fire and assist decision-making to reduce firefighter exposure.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [4]
  1. Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River National Lab. (SRNL)
  2. USDA Forest Service, New Ellenton, SC (United States)
  3. Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA (United States)
  4. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Aiken, SC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1049-8001; PII: WF14181
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
International Journal of Wildland Fire
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 24; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1049-8001
International Association of Wildland Fire
Research Org:
Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
61 RADIATION PROTECTION AND DOSIMETRY atmospheric dispersion; radioactive dose; radioecology