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J Environ Radioact. 2013 Dec;126:434-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.12.003. Epub 2012 Dec 31.

Transfer factors to Whitetail deer: comparison of stomach-content, plant-sample and soil-sample concentrations as the denominator.

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ECOMatters Inc, WB Lewis Business Centre, 24 Aberdeen Avenue, Suite 105, Pinawa, Manitoba, Canada R0E 1L0. Electronic address:


A recent study measured transfer factors for 49 elements in hunter-killed Whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus), using concentrations in the stomach content as the substrate/denominator to compute muscle/vegetation concentration ratios (CR(m-stomach)) and daily fractional transfer factors (Ff). Using the stomach content ensured an accurate representation of what the deer ate, except that it was limited in time to the vegetation selected by the animal just before it was killed. Here, two alternatives are considered, one where the feed is represented by samples of 21 different vegetation types that deer may have eaten in the area (CR(m-plant)), and the other is using soil concentration in the region as the denominator (CR(m-soil)). The latter is the formulation used in the ERICA tool, and other sources, for risk assessment to non-human biota. Across elements, (log) concentrations in all the media were highly correlated. The stomach contents had consistently higher ash and rare earth element concentrations than the sampled (and washed) vegetation and this was attributed to soil or dust ingestion. This lends credence to the use of soil-based CRm-soil values, despite (or more accurately because of) the inclusive yet gross simplicity of the approach. However, it was clear that variation of CR(m-soil) values was larger than for CR(m-stomach) or CR(m-plant), even if soil load on vegetation was included in the latter values. It was also noted that the variation in CR(m-soil) computed from the product of CR(m-plant) and CR(plant-soil) (where CR(plant-soil) is the plant/soil concentration ratio) was somewhat larger than the variation inherent in CR(m-soil) data. Thus it is reasonable to estimate CR(m-soil) from CR(m-plant) and CR(plant-soil) if observed CR(m-soil) values are not available, but this introduces further uncertainty.


Aggregate transfer factor; Concentration ratio; Non-human biota

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