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Montelongo M.Y.,Research Center on Advanced Material | Herrera E.F.,Research Center on Advanced Material | Ramirez E.,Research Center on Advanced Material | Carrillo J.I.,Research Center on Advanced Material | And 4 more authors.
Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association | Year: 2015

The city of Aldama, Chihuahua, Mexico is located 30 km NNE of Chihuahua city. Three high-volume collectors with PM10 heads were placed in specific locations in Aldama during the year 2011 to measure radioisotope concentrations in the air. The city area of 16 km2 was divided into 64 squares of 500 × 500 m. At the vertices of the grid, silt samples were taken between January and June 2011, before the rains began. The concentrations of natural, cosmogenic, and anthropogenic radioactive isotopes were calculated in both filters and silts samples. The isotopes selected for the measurement were 238U, 232Th, 7Be, 137Cs, and 40K. Measurements of PM10 and silts were performed during 2011, coinciding with the accident at Fukushima, Japan, on March 11. For this reason, we could see the 137Cs in PM10 increase between April and July; with the arrival of the rains, the 137Cs concentration began to decrease in the air. The concentration of PM10 measured by the equipment located at the Mexican Uranium plant (URAMEX, initials in Spanish) that was processing radioactive ores exceeded the standard values in February and March, when the air velocity increases. At City Hall, the concentration of PM10 surpassed the value of the standard between May and July. This increased concentration is likely due to increased automobile traffic because City Hall is located in the city center. At a private home, the concentration of PM10 surpassed the standard on several days during the year because the home is located on the outskirts of the city, where most of the streets are not paved. Due to the high concentrations of PM10, especially at the collection point located at the private home, it is necessary to start taking steps to mitigate their spread before they cause health problems in the younger population and in older adults. Implications: The radioisotope content found in the PM10 confirms that the decision to place the Mexican Uranium plant (URAMEX, initials in Spanish) processing radioactive ores near the town of Aldama was not well thought out. Because the monitoring work was carried out in 2011 and coincided with the Fukushima accident, an increased concentration of 137Cs could be detected in the PM10. We made recommendations to the municipal authorities of the city to mitigate the concentration of particles in the air. © Research Centre of Advanced Materials.

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