Radiocarbon in the atmospheric gases and PM10 aerosol around the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, Hungary

Tamás Varga, István Major, Virág Gergely, András Lencsés, Tibor Bujtás, A. J.Timothy Jull, Mihály Veres, Mihály Molnár

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Our study shows a one-year-long, monthly integrated continuous monitoring campaign of gaseous radiocarbon emission and ambient air compared with 4 event-like, weekly (168 h) atmospheric aerosol radiocarbon data in every season of 2019, at 4 locations (n = 16 aerosol sample) around the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, Hungary. The study shows the first aerosol radiocarbon results around a nuclear power plant measured by accelerator mass spectrometry in Hungary. There was no dominant contribution detected in the atmospheric CO2 gas fraction, but we could detect excess radiocarbon in the total gaseous carbon fraction at almost every sampling point around the Paks Nuclear Power Plant. The highest Δ14C value in the total gaseous carbon form was 157.9 ± 4.6‰ in November and the highest Δ 14C value in the CO2 fraction was 86.1 ± 4.0‰ in December during 2019. Observed 14C activity excess is not higher than previously published values around the Paks Nuclear Power plant at the same sampling points (Molnár et al., 2007; Varga et al., 2020). Our aerosol radiocarbon measurements show that there is no significant contribution from the nuclear power plant to the atmospheric PM10 fraction. We could not detect a Δ 14C value higher than 0‰ in any season. The results show that the simple aerosol sampling, without pre-treatment of the filters, is appropriate for the measurement of excess radiocarbon at the vicinity of nuclear power plants. The applied preparation and measurement method can be applicable for detection of hot (14C) particles and early identification of radiocarbon emission from nuclear power plants in the PM10 fraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106670
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Aerosol
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Hydrocarbon
  • Monitoring
  • Nuclear power plant
  • Radiocarbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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