Radioactive Tracers in the Black Sea: A Tool for Environmental Assessment and Ecological Regulation

  • Sergey B. GulinEmail author
  • Victor N. Egorov


Radiochemoecological approach has been developed to evaluate a maximum allowable discharge of pollutants into marine environments. It combines assessment of the capability of seawater for self-purification against the nuclear and non-nuclear pollutants, and their toxicity. The rate of decontamination of the waters is estimated from the time-series data on concentration of the fallout radionuclides, both soluble ( 90Sr , 137Cs ) and particle-reactive (239+240Pu). A simple logistic model was developed to describe the effect of self-purification on pollutants concentration that is limited by the maximum allowable concentration (MAC). It is shown that the rate of pollutant discharge into the water body should be decreased when the contamination level has reached exactly ½ MAC. An example of such computation was illustrated regarding the pollution of the Black Sea waters with mercury. The results have showed that the Black Sea assimilation capacity is nearly 40 ton Hg per year, while the Danube discharges alone more than 60 t year−1 mercury, pointing the necessity of an immediate reduction of the Black Sea contamination with this hazardous pollutant.


Black Sea Radioactive contamination Mercury Maximum allowable input Self-purification 


  1. Agre AL, Korogodin VI (1960) On the distribution of radioactive contamination in the non-flow-through water body. Med Radiol 1:67–73 (Russian)Google Scholar
  2. Anderson RF, Fleisher MQ, LeHuray AP (1989) Concentration, oxidation state, and particulate flux of uranium in the Black Sea. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 53:2215–2224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogdanova AK (1959) Water exchange through the Bosporus Strait and its role in the mixing of the Black Sea waters. Proc Sevastopol Biol Stat 12:401–420 (Russian)Google Scholar
  4. Buesseler KO, Benitez CR (1994) Determination of mass accumulation rates and sediment radionuclide inventories in the deep Black Sea. Deep-Sea Res I 41(11/12):1605–1615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buesseler KO, Livingston HD, Casso SA (1991) Mixing between oxic and anoxic waters of the Black Sea as traced by Chernobyl cesium isotopes. Deep-Sea Res 38(Suppl 2):S72–S745Google Scholar
  6. Calvert SE, Karlin RE, Toolin LJ et al (1991) Low organic carbon accumulation rates in Black Sea—sediments. Nature 350:692–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crusius J, Anderson RF (1991) Immobility of 210Pb in Black Sea sediments. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 55:327–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Egorov VN, Povinec PP, Polikarpov GG et al (1999) 90Sr and 137Cs in the Black Sea after the Chernobyl NPP accident: inventories, balance and tracer applications. J Environ Radioact 43:137–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Egorov VN, Gulin SB, Polikarpov GG et al (2010) Black Sea. In: Atwood DA (ed) Radionuclides in the environment. Wiley, Chichester, pp 430–452Google Scholar
  10. EU Parliamentary Assembly (2008) The fight against harm to the environment in the Black Sea. Report of Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, 23 June 2008 (20th Sitting), Doc. 11632, Recommendation 1837, F-67075 StrasbourgGoogle Scholar
  11. Florou H, Kritidis P, Vosniakos F et al (2002) Dispersion of 137Cs in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea: the time evolution in relation to the sources and pathways. J Environ Protect Ecol 3(1):30–36Google Scholar
  12. GESAMP (1990) The state of the marine environments. In: Reports and studies. GESAMP, 39, UNEP, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Gulin SB (2000a) Recent changes of biogenic carbonate deposition in anoxic sediments of the Black Sea: sedimentary record and climatic implication. Mar Environ Res 49(4):319–328CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gulin SB (2000b) Seasonal changes of 234Th scavenging in surface water across the western Black Sea: an implication of the cyclonic circulation patterns. J Environ Radioact 51(3):335–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gulin SB, Egorov VN (2013) Self-purification of seawater: a measure for environmental regulation. In: White MR (ed) Seawater: geochemistry, composition and environmental impacts. Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp 93–126Google Scholar
  16. Gulin SB, Aarkrog A, Polikarpov GG et al (1997) Chronological study of 137Cs input to the Black sea deep and shelf sediments. Radioprotect 32(C2):257–262Google Scholar
  17. Gulin SB, Polikarpov GG, Egorov VN et al (2002) Radioactive contamination of the north-western Black Sea sediments. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 54(3):541–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gulin SB, Polikarpov GG, Martin J-M (2003) Geochronological reconstruction of 137Cs transport from the Coruh river to the SE Black Sea: comparative assessment of radionuclide retention in the mountainous catchment area. Cont Shelf Res 23:1811–1819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gulin SB, Egorov VN, Polikarpov GG et al (2012) General trends in radioactive contamination of the marine environment from the Black Sea to Antarctic Ocean. In: Burlakova EB, Naydich VI (eds) The lessons of Chernobyl: 25 years later. Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp 281–299Google Scholar
  20. Gulin SB, Egorov VN, Polikarpov GG et al (2013a) Isotopes in hydrology, marine ecosystems and climate change studies. In: Proceedings of international symposium, vol 2, Monaco 27.03.-2.04.2011; IAEA Vienna, pp 535Google Scholar
  21. Gulin SB, Mirzoyeva NYu, Egorov VN et al (2013b) Secondary radioactive contamination of the Black Sea after Chernobyl accident: recent levels, pathways and trends. J Environ Radioact 124:50–56CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Gulin SB, Egorov VN, Duka MS et al (2015) Deep-water profiling of 137Cs and 90Sr in the Black Sea: a further insight into dynamics of the post-Chernobyl radioactive contamination. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 304(2):779–783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hay BJ, Honjo S, Kempe S et al (1990) Interannual variability in particle flux in the southwestern Black Sea. Deep-Sea Res 37(6):911–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Izrael YuA, Tsiban AV (1983) About assimilation capacity of the World ocean. Proc Acad Sci USSR 272(3):702–705 (Russian)Google Scholar
  25. Korogodina VL, Korogodin VI, Kutlakhmedov YA (1996) Radiocapacity: prognosis of pollution after nuclear accidents. In: Proceedinga of IX international congress on radiation protection (IRPA9), IAEA ViennaGoogle Scholar
  26. Kutlakhmedov Y, Korogodin V, Rodina V et al (2006) Radiocapacity: characteristic of stability and reliability of biota in ecosystems. In: Radiation risk estimates in normal and emergency situations, NATO Security through Science Series, pp 175–185Google Scholar
  27. Nielsen SP, Lüning M, Ilus E et al (2010) Baltic Sea. In: Atwood DA (ed) Radionuclides in the environment. Wiley, Chichester, pp 415–436Google Scholar
  28. Osvath I, Egorov V, Gulin S et al (2007) What can radiotracers tell us about the fate of Black Sea contaminants? Rapp du 38-e de la SIESM 38: 20Google Scholar
  29. Polikarpov GG (1966) Radioecology of aquatic organisms. Reinhold, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Polikarpov GG, Egorov VN (1986) Marine dynamic radiochemoecology. Energoatomizdat, Moscow (Russian)Google Scholar
  31. Sanchez A, Gastaud J, Noshkin V et al (1991) Plutonium oxidation states in the southwestern Black Sea: evidence regarding the origin of the cold intermediate layer. Deep-Sea Res 38:845–853CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stokozov NA, Buesseler KO (1999) Mixing model for the NW Black Sea using Sr-90 and salinity as tracers. J Environ Radioact 43(2):173–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Timofeeff-Ressovsky NV (1957) Application of rays and emitters for experimental biocenology. Botanic J (USSR) 42(2):161–194 (Russian)Google Scholar
  34. Tsuchiya K, Harashima S (1965) Lead exposure and the derivation of maximum allowable concentrations and threshold limit values. Br J Ind Med 22(3):181–186PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. UNEP (2002) Global mercury assessment, overview of existing and future national actions, including legislation, relevant to mercury. UNEP, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Wei CL, Murray JW (1991) 234Th/238U disequilibria in the Black Sea. Deep-Sea Res 38(Suppl. 2):855–873CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yücel M, Moore WS, Butler IB et al (2012) Recent sedimentation in the Black Sea: new insights from radionuclides and sulfur isotopes. Deep-Sea Res I 66:103–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zaitsev YP, Mamaev V (1997) Marine biological diversity in the Black Sea. A study of change and decline. United Nations Publications, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The A.O. Kovalevsky Institute of Marine Biological ResearchRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

Personalised recommendations