Speciation of plutonium in potato and the gastrointestinal transfer of plutonium and americium from potato

Robert Bulman*, Tracey E. Johnson, George J. Ham, John Harrison, Reg F. Clayton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Complexation of Pu(IV) and Am(III) by naturally occurring agents such as citrate and phytate might enhance uptake from the digestive tract. However, the extent to which they enhance the gastrointestinal uptake of actinides from foodstuffs is far from resolved, as this study shows. Investigations of the chemical forms of Pu(IV) and Am(III), by gel permeation chromatography, in simulated digests of potato tubers naturally radiolabelled with 239Pu(IV) and 241Am(III) have shown that neither citrate nor phytate appear to determine their chemical forms. Therefore, it is possible that these are not the complexing anions which determine the gastrointestinal transfer of these radioelements from potato meal. Isotachophoretic analyses of the juices pressed from tubers and solutions prepared by simulated digestion of potato tubers have demonstrated the presence of several low molecular weight anions. These anions might be complexing agents because they possess an isotachophoretic mobility similar to that of citrate; some of these anions remain unidentified. Whereas 239Pu and 241Am were used in the foregoing studies, 238Pu and 241Am were used to produce either in vitro or naturally radiolabelled potatoes for gastrointestinal transfer measurements using rats and hamsters. Gastrointestinal transfer values of 0.13 ± 0.05% (mean ± standard error of mean) and 0.16 ± 0.06% were determined with rats for the uptake of 238Pu and 241Am, respectively, from naturally labelled potato meal. Higher gastrointestinal transfer values were obtained for hamsters: for 238Pu and 241Am the transfer values from naturally labelled meal were 0.25 ± 0.08% and 0.33 ± 0.07%, respectively. Similar values were observed for uptake from in vitro labelled potato meal. On the basis of the similarity of the values for the naturally labelled potato meal and for the 'spiked' potato meal it would appear that biological incorporation is not necessary for the binding of the actinides to the ligands which will determine gastrointestinal transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-289
Number of pages23
JournalScience of the Total Environment, The
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 1993


  • americium
  • bioavailability
  • isotachophoresis
  • plutonium
  • speciation


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