Study: tree coring seems to be quicker, cheaper method of measuring radiation

not much contamination outside the Concord site, and theres never been very much, which we know from looking at earlier water samples, the geologist said. Whats interesting and potentially very important is that we dont have to drill wells, which are extremely expensive, to determine what the uranium concentrations are in the ground.

The two detected depleted uranium in tree bark several kilometers away from the site, which could only have been deposited as airborne particles, Coleman said. They cannot say whether the radiation in the bark might present a health hazard.

Assuming we have trees to look at, we know we can apply this method of investigation to many other contaminant sites in the United States and abroad, Bulleri said. This is exciting. Coleman said the method promises to be reliable as well as economical.

There are many nuclear sites and radioactive sites in the United States that need to be monitored, he said. Instead of going out and doing a lot of expensive testing, you can just core a few trees and get the answer over a huge area very quickly. This potentially could boost safety by enhancing monitoring.

Researchers and others take core samples with a hand-held device they screw into the tree through the bark, sapwood and heartwood. The simplest use is to learn how old a tree is by counting rings in the resulting core.


Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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