A research team at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has discovered an atmospheric aerosol particle-enriched with the uranium in Alaska. The substance with Uranium-235 has been found for the first time in the area and these particles enriched with uranium are used to make nuclear fuel and atomic bombs.
The US National and Atmospheric Administration said that the unusual particle was tracked at an altitude of seven kilometers above Alaska's Aleutian Islands and the researchers have made it clear that it's definitely not from a natural source. The study is published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.
Experts are probing whether the radioactive particle is capable of damaging the organic material and cause biological mutations leading to cancer.
"We describe a highly unusual aerosol particle containing a very small amount of enriched uranium. The bulk of the particle probably came from the combustion of heavy fuel oil. The particle was encountered when we were making no special attempt to sample radioactive material. We don't know the source of this particle. It may indicate a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed," wrote the researchers in their report.
The researchers believe that the mysterious radioactive particle might have come from Asian countries like China, Japan or North Korea.
"It's not a significant amount of radioactive debris by itself. But it's the implication that there's some very small source of uranium that we don't understand. One of the main motivations of this paper is to see if somebody who knows more about uranium than any of us would understand the source of the particle," Dan Murphy, lead author of the study told Gizmodo.
The researchers have also ruled out any connection of it with the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. If it is from North Korea, then it would spell another disaster among the nations which are advocating Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) compliance across the globe.