The uranium content and 235U/238U atom ratio were determined in soils and earthworms of an area of Kosovo (Djakovica garrison), heavily shelled with depleted uranium (DU) ammunition during the 1999 war. The aim of the study was to reconstruct the small-scale distribution of uranium and assess the influence of the DU added to the surface environment. The total uranium concentration and the 235U/238U ratio of topsoils showed great variability and were inversely correlated. The highest uranium levels (up to 31.47 mg/kg) and lowest 235U/238U ratios (minimum 0.002147) were measured in topsoils collected inside, or very close to, the clusters of DU penetrator holes. Regarding the fractionation of uranium in the surface soils, the uranium concentrations in the soluble and exchangeable fractions increased as the total uranium concentration of the topsoils increased. High and rather uniform percentage contents of uranium (24–36%) were associated with the poorly crystalline iron oxide phases of soils. In the U-enriched soils the elevated levels of the element were probably due to the presence of very small, unevenly distributed oxidized DU particles. The total uranium concentration in earthworms was in the range 0.142–0.656 mg/kg, with the highest concentrations in Lumbricus terrestris. The juveniles of all three studied species seemed to accumulate uranium more than adults, probably due to age-related differences in metabolism. The 235U/238U ratio in the earthworms was variable (0.005241–0.007266) and independent of both the total uranium contents in soils and the absolute uranium levels in the animals. Bioconcentration was greater at lower U concentrations in soil, probably due to an increasing rate of elimination of uranium by the earthworms as the soil contents of the element increase. The results of this study clearly indicate that DU was added to the soil of the study area. Nevertheless, the phenomenon was very limited spatially and the total uranium concentrations fell within the natural range of the element in soils. Moreover, the absolute uranium concentrations indicate that there was no contamination of the earthworm species studied.
|Titolo:||Uranium contents and 235U/238U atom ratios in soil and earthworms in western Kosovo after the 1999 war|
RICCOBONO, FRANCESCO (Corresponding)
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|