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Oxidation of uranium oxide aerosol particles in the near-surface environment [abstract]

By J.G. Arnason, Nicholas Lloyd, Randall Parrish, Y. Tang and R.J. Reeder


Between 1958 and 1984, microscopic particles of depleted\ud uranium (DU) oxide were emitted as an aerosol from a\ud manufacturing plant located in a populated area of Colonie,\ud NY, and deposited in sediments, soils, and interior dusts.\ud During this period, plant workers and nearby residents were\ud exposed to significant amounts of DU through inhalation.\ud This study focuses on a interior dusts and a dated sediment\ud core from a nearby reservoir that contains a detailed historical\ud record of particle deposition.\ud We have identified more than 50 discrete, DU-bearing\ud particles with diameters <1 to 30 μm (mean = 5 μm). Particle\ud morphologies include spheres, irregular shards, and\ud agglomerates of micron- to submicron-size particles. Particle\ud compositions determined by electron microprobe range from\ud 45-100 wt % UO2, with minor Si, Ca, Pb, and Fe.\ud U LIII-edge μ-XANES spectra were compared between\ud DU particles collected from interior dusts (dry) and from\ud sediments (wet). Absorption edge profiles and energies of the\ud dust sample spectra are similar to the U(IV)O2 model\ud compound, indicating a preponderance of U(IV). In contrast,\ud the edge positions of sediment sample particles are shifted to\ud higher energies, suggesting a higher proportion of U(VI)\ud relative to the dust samples. In one case, the absorption edge\ud position of a sediment particle was nearly identical to the\ud U(VI) model compound metaschoepite. These results suggest\ud that U oxidation state and phase relations of these particles are\ud functions of environment (wet vs. dry) and exposure age

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.gca.2008.05.004
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