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J Environ Sci Health B. 1998 Jan;33(1):99-121.

The uptake of radionuclides by beans, squash, and corn growing in contaminated alluvial soils at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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Environment, Safety and Health Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NM 87545, USA.


Pinto beans (Phaselous vulgaris), sweet corn (Zea mays), and zucchini squash (Cucurbita pepo) were grown in a field pot study using alluvial floodplain soils contaminated with various radionuclides within Los Alamos Canyon (LAC) at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico. Soils as well as washed edible (fruit) and nonedible (stems and leaves) crop tissues were analyzed for tritium (3H), cesium (137Cs), strontium (90Sr), plutonium (238Pu and 239,240Pu), americium (241Am), and total uranium (totU). Most radionuclides, with the exception of 3H and totU, in soil and crop tissues from LAC were detected in significantly higher concentrations (p < 0.05) than in soil or crop tissues collected from regional background locations. Significant differences in radionuclide concentrations among crop species (squash were generally higher than beans or corn) and plant parts (nonedible tissue were generally higher than edible tissue) were observed. Most soil-to-plant concentration ratios for radionuclides in edible and nonedible crop tissues grown in soils from LAC were within default values in the literature commonly used in dose and risk assessment models. Overall, the maximum net positive committed effective dose equivalent (CEDE)--the CEDE plus two sigma for each radioisotope minus background and then all positive doses summed--to a hypothetical 50-year resident that ingested 352 lb ([160 kg]; the maxiumum ingestion rate per person per year) of beans, corn, and squash in equal proportions was 74 mrem y-1 (740 microS y-1). This upper bound dose was below the International Commission on Radiological Protection permissible dose limit of 100 mrem y-1 (1000 microS y-1) from all pathways and corresponds to a risk of an excess cancer fatality of 3.7 x 10(-5) (37 in a million), which is also below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's guideline of 10(-4).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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