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J Environ Radioact. 2010 Nov;101(11):902-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2010.06.004. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

Measured elemental transfer factors for boreal hunter/gatherer scenarios: fish, game and berries.

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ECOMatters Inc., WB Lewis Business Centre, Manitoba R0E 1L0, Canada.


The environmental assessment of long-term nuclear waste management requires data to estimate food chain transfers for radionuclides in various environmental settings. For key elements such as iodine (I) and chlorine (Cl), there is a paucity of transfer factor data, particularly outside of agricultural food chains. This study dealt with transfers of I, Cl and 28 other elements to foods that would be typical of boreal hunter/gatherer lifestyles, as well as being common foods for modern recreational and subsistence hunters. Food/substrate concentration ratios (CRs) and related transfer factors for eight species of widely distributed fish, whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Canada geese (Branta canadensis) and wild blueberries (Vaccinium myrtilloides) were measured and compared to the literature. Limited data were obtained for caribou (Rangifer tarandus), elk (Cervus elaphus) and moose (Alces americanus). Freshwater sediment Kd values and CRs for a ubiquitous freshwater macrophyte were also obtained. The CRs for I in fish were 29Lkg(-1) in edible muscle (fillets) of large-bodied species and 85Lkg(-1) for whole, small-bodied fish. The logCRs for fish and macrophytes were correlated across elements. For several elements, the Kds for sediments in deep water were approximately 4-fold higher than for littoral samples. The elemental transfers to wild animals for some elements were notably different than the literature indicates for domestic animals. It is argued that the transfer data obtained using indigenous elements from real environmental settings, as opposed to contaminant elements in experimental or impacted environments, are especially relevant to assessment of long-term impacts.

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