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  1. Study of environmental phenomena through radiochemical approach
  2. Studies of natural and artificial radionuclides mobility in the environment for their potential danger for man health or environment
  3. Development of radioanalytical methodologies and monitoring technologies

Natural and artificial radionuclides already present or accidentally introduced in the environment provide us the means to examine the evolutionary trend of complex and dynamic environmental systems and provide an useful tool for the correct evaluation of environmental and health risks.
The measurement of radionuclides in the environmental sectors and the development of related methods allow us to implement the information from the environmental variables that describe a complex environmental state. In this way we can understand the story of an environmental system and its characteristics.
In aquatic systems, through sediment analysis, with targeted sampling strategies and the analysis of radionuclides distribution that settle continuously on water surfaces and over time are incorporated in sediments, the chronology of sediments of the last century can be deduced and the sediment layers of preindustrial micro-pollutants background can be identified.

This method was applied to various aquatic environments, among which the Venice Lagoon, and enabled us to make maps of inorganic elements concentration, dividing those due to the anthropic impact from those naturally present in sediments.
If this method of investigation is applied to environmental matrices different from aquatic sediments, is more complex; however, exploiting radiochemical methodologies, in cases in which times and sources are not clear, the succession of events and of the pollutant sources can be understood.
The researches of the environmental radiochemistry group also address to the continuous improvement of obtainable results; procedures to improve detection limits are attempted, regarding sampling strategy, sample preparation and data analysis.

Research activity
The research activity is in the area of environmental chemistry, environmental radiochemistry, radioecology and radiation protection.
In detail analytical techniques used are:

  • High resolution gamma spectrometry with intrinsec germanium detectors of natural (e.g. 226Ra and decay products, 210Pb, 40K, 7Be ....) and artificial (e.g. 137Cs, 134Cs, 131I, 60Co ....) gamma emitting radionuclides. This instrumentation allows the analysis of different biotic and abiotic environmental matrices and goods (soils, sediments, water, food, building materials...) without or with minimal sample pretreatment.
  • High resolution alpha spectrometry with surface barrier semiconductor detectors; in particular, 210Po in water and biota is measured, a radioisotope naturally present in the environment and highly ecotoxic, through pretreatment and electrolytic deposition on Ag layer.
  • implementation of existing measuring techniques and development of new measuring methods of radon gas in air indoor and outdoor through: trace detectors, active charcoal detectors, electret chambers, continuous measurement with Lucas cell (scintillation counter); implementation of measuring methods of radon emanation and radon concentration in water;
  • liquid scintillation counting of beta-emitting radionuclides;
  • analysis by Energy Dispersive Polarized X-Ray Fluorescence (EDP-XRF), Total Reflection X-Ray Fluorescence (T-XRF) and improvement of measuring methods for elemental composition of environmental samples.
    Precision and reliability of measurements is assured by the participation to international intercomparison rings with the analysis of standards and unknown samples.

The main research fields are:

  1. Study of environmental phenomena through radiochemical approach:
    • sediment radiochronology, study of inventories and fluxes of pollutants in aquatic systems and in soils
    • identification of natural background levels in sediments
    • study of sediment transport dynamics (erosion/sedimentation, mass balance of sediments exchanged at the port inlets of Venice Lagoon...)

  2. Studies on natural and artificial radionuclides mobility in the environment as potentially dangerous for human health and for environment:
    • study of interactions and exchanges of radionuclides between environmental compartments
    • characterization and monitoring of radioactively contaminated sites: identification of potential ways of propagation, evaluation of exposure, identification of state indicators.

  3. set-up of radioanalytical methodologies and monitoring technologies:
    • set up of new radioanalytical methodologies for the improvement of radionuclides identification, optimizing detectability, reducing measuring times and number of analysis
    • set up of methods, protocols and sampling techniques of different environments with the aim to optimize the number of samples to be measured
    • set up of actions to guarantee protection of man’s health and of the environment

Some research grants:

Investigation on radionuclides in sewage sludge.
This project aims to analyze radionuclides concentration in sewage sludge with particular caution to identify possible anomalies due to artificial radionuclides.
The found anomalies are analyzed to evaluate possible hazard for the workers, for the population and for the environment.

Research on radionuclides and inorganic pollutants content in fish from main fishing areas of the Earth.
This research concerns the study of "spy" radionuclides as first indicators of pollution from artificial radionuclides.
In this research about 450 samples of fish products were analyzed, coming from all the main fishing areas (FAO) and sold on national market. The same samples were analyzed via EDP-XRF to measure main inorganic pollutants and via high resolution gamma spectrometry to quantify artificial radionuclides.

Chemical and radiochemical preliminary characterization of an industrial abandoned site (old ironworks)
Use of radiodating methods associated to the chemical characterization of inorganic pollutants present in an old ironworks area with the aim to identify the periods of highest impact of the industrial manifactures that succedeed each other in the area.

Determination of natural and artificial radionuclides in food products and environmental samples from interland of province of Pesaro Urbino
Study of radionuclides in game meat and in nutraceutical products usually consumed: artificial radionuclides as 137Cs and those belonging to natural decay chains of 238U and 232Th. Special attention to 210Pb and 210Po included in the most radiotoxic natural radioisotopes. This research is in cooperation with the Department of Drug and Health of "Carlo Bo" University of Urbino.

Study of the chemical physical environment of the sandysubstrate of the area in front of the coast of Eraclea Mare.
The aim of the project is to highlight possible differences in the areas examined, to estimate sediment quality and the eligibility of the substrate to the settlement of the clam Chamelea gallina (Linnaeus, 1758).
It includes the set-up of sediments sampling strategy in areas characterized by fishing and involved in beach nourishment. Sediment characterization was done through radionuclides analysis, chemical analysis, granulometry and organic substance analysis.

"COWAMA (Coastal Water Management)": Demonstrative project for the harmonization of systems for measuring environmental quality and for the strengthening of applied research in the marine-coastal field, particularly in the defence of protected areas" Adriatic New Neighbourhood Programme INTERREG/CARDS-PHARE.
This survey was planned to study the environmental state of Boka Kotorska (Kotor Bay, Montenegro): the research concerned the radiochemical study of sediments, the determination of the inventory and the present and past fluxes of main inorganic and organic pollutants through radiochronological analysis of sediments.

"Campalto Polonium and Radon"
This survey regarded the former phosphogypsum landfill (NORM) of Passo a Campalto (Venice).
After the permanent safety action of the area, a plan to check the effectiveness of the intervention was done, considering the dangerousness of the waste (inorganic pollutants, radionuclides) and the particular features of the site, at the border of Venice Lagoon in a saltmarsh area, next to urban areas. In this context, new methods to measure radon exalation from soil and for the determination of 226Ra and daughters were experienced.
The survey involved the assessment of sediments quality and biota nearby the perimeter of the landfill and the analysis of risk of release of 210Po from landfill.

    • C. Cantaluppi, A. Fasson, F. Ceccotto, A. Cianchi and S. Degetto
      Radionuclides Concentration in Water and Mud of Euganean Thermal District.
      Int. J. Environ. Res., 8(1):237-248,Winter 2014. ISSN: 1735-6865.
    • A. Cianchi, C. Cantaluppi
      Uso del codice Visiplan per l’ottimizzazione della radioprotezione del personale addetto alla manutenzione di motori di aereo in lega toriata
      Atti del XXXVI Congresso Nazionale di Radioprotezione, Palermo, 17 - 20 settembre 2013 ISBN 978-88-88648-38-5.
    • M. A. Meli, C. Cantaluppi, D. Desideri, C. Benedetti, L. Feduzi, F. Ceccotto, A. Fasson
      Radioactivity measurements and dosimetric evaluation in meat of wild and bred animals in central Italy
      Food Control 30 (2013) 272-279.
    • C. Cantaluppi, M. Natali, F. Ceccotto, A. Fasson
      Multi-elemental analysis of powder samples by direct measurement with TXRF
      X-ray Spectrometry 2013, 42, 213-219.
    • M.A. Meli, C. Cantaluppi, D. Desideri, C. Benedetti , L. Feduzi, F. Ceccotto, A. Fasson
      Radioactivity measurements and dosimetric evaluation in meat of wild and bred animals in central Italy
      Food Control 30 (2013) 272-279.