Written by John D. Dalton to the late Jane Jones of NPWA, December 20, 1999:

>> >Beryllium is highly persistent in water with a half-life of greater than
>> >200 days. (The half-life of a pollutant is the amount of time it takes
>> >one-half of the chemical to be degraded.)
>> What in this context would be the mechanism for the degredation of Be?  It
>is not
>> radioactive.
>> --
>> John D Dalton

Hi Jane, I think the EPA paper where this statement is from, was including
beryllium compounds as well as different forms of Be in their assessment.

Bob J is on holidays, but sends this:


Beryllium has only one isotope, 9Be, on earth. Cosmogenic Be is produced in
the atmosphere by cosmic ray spallation of oxygen and nitrogen (Arnold and
Al-Salih, 1955; Peters, 1955, 1959). Because beryllium tends to exist in
solution at pH levels less than about 5.5 , it will enter into solution and
be transported to the Earth's surface via rainwater. As the precipitation
quickly becomes more alkaline, Be drops out of solution. Cosmogenic 10Be
thereby accumulates at the soil surface, where its logn
half-life (1.6 Ma) permits a long residence time before decaying to 10Be.
10Be and its daughter products have been used to examine soil erosion
(Pavich et al., 1985; Brown et al., 1995), regolith soil formation (Barg et
1992), the development of lateritic soils (Bernat et al., 1992).

Concentrations of 7Be and 10Be have been measured in precipitation (Domink
et al., 1987; Brown et al., 1989; Brown et al., 1992; Knies et al., 1994),
atmospheric aerosols (Dibb et al., 1994), and river waters and
associated sediments (Brown et al., 1992, 1995). The atmospheric flux of
cosmogenic 7Be (half-life = 53 days) has been measured to determine erosion
rates and fluvial transport mechanisms (Dominik et al., 1987), as
well as to determine direct contribution of rainfall to terrestrial waters
(e.g. streamwater; Cooper et al., 1991).
To our knowledge, no studies have reported beryllium isotopes in
ground-water samples. While beryllium isotopes may prove analytically
difficult because of its low concentrations in catchment waters, and because
interpretations would require close consideration of sorption versus
solution behavior, the substatial differences in nuclide contents between
important catchment compartments may make Be istopes worth examining (Nimz,


Arnold, J. R., and Al-Salih, H. A. (1955). "Beryllium-7 produced by cosmic
rays". Science, 121: 451-453.

Barg, E., Lai, D., Jull, A. J. T., Southon, J., Caffee, M. W., Finkel, R.
C., and Pavich, M. (1992). "Applications of
cosmogenic nuclear methods for studying soil erosion and formation rates."
In: Y. K. Kharaka and A. S. Maest
(Eds.), Water-Rock Interaction, Proceedings of the 7th International
Symposium on Water-Rock Interaction.
Balkema Publishers, Rotterdam, p. 541.

Bernat, M., Bokilo, J. E., Yiou, F., Raisbeck, G. M., and Muller, J-P.
(1990). "10Be and natural isotopes of U and
Th in a laterlite cover from Camaroon." Chem. Geol., 84: 347.

Brown, L., Stensland, G. J., Klein, J. and Middleton, R. (1989).
"Atmospheric deposition of 7Be and 10Be."
Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta, 53: 135.

Brown, E. T, Edmond, J. M., Raisbeck, G. M., Bourles, D. L., Yiou, F. and
Measures, C. I. (1992). "Beryllium
isotope geochemistry in tropical river basins." Geochim. et Cosmochim.
Acta, 56: 1607.

Brown, E. T., Stallard, R. F., Laren, M. C., Raisbeck, G. M., and Yiou, F.
(1995). "Denudation rates determined
from the accumulation of in-situ produced 10Be in the Luquillo experimental
forest, Puerto Rico." Earth Planet.
Sci. Lett., 129: 193.

Cooper, L. W., Olsen, C. R., Solomon, D. K., Larsen, I. L., Cook, R. B.,
and Grebmeier, J. M. (1991). "Stable
Isotopes of Oxygen and Natural Fallout Radionuclides Used for Tracing
Runoff During Snowmelt in an Arctic
Watershed". Water Resour. Res., 27, 9: 2171- 2179.

Dibb, J. E., Meeker, L. D., Finkel, R. C., Southon, J. R., Caffee, M. W.,
and Barrie, L. A. (1994). "Estimation of
stratospheric input to the Arctic troposphere: 7Be and 10Be in aerosols at
Alert." Canada J. Geophys. Res., 99:

Domink, J., Burrus, D. and Vernet, J-P. (1987). "Transport of environmental
radionuclides in an alpine
watershed." Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 84: 165.

Faure, G. (1986). Principles of Isotope Geology, Second Edition. John Wiley
& Sons, New York. pp. 589.

Knies, D. L., Elmore, D., Sharma, P., Vogt, S., Li, R., Lipshutz, M. E.,
Petty, G., Ferrel, J., Monagham, M. C.,
Fritz, S., and Agee, E. (1994). "7Be, 10Be, and 36Cl in precipitation."
Nucl. Instr. Meth. Phys. Res., 92: 340.

Nimz, G. J. (1998). "Lithogenic and Cosmogenic Tracers in Catchment
Hydrology." In: C. Kendall and J. J.
McDonnell (Eds.), Isotope Tracers in Catchment Hydrology. Elsevier, pp.

Pavich, M. J., Brown, L., Valette-Silver, J. N., Klein, J. and Middleton,
R. (1985). "10Be analysis of a Quaternary
weathering profile in the Virginia Peidmont." Geology, 13: 39.

Peters, B. (1955). "Radioactive beryllium in the atmosphere and on earth".
Proc. Indian Acad. Sci, Sect. A, 41,

Peters, B. (1959). "Cosmic-ray produced radioactive isotopes as tracers for
studying large-scale atmospheric
circulation", J. Atmos. Terr. Phys., 13, 351-370.