The gastrointestinal absorption of plutonium and americium in rats and guinea pigs after ingestion of dusts from the former nuclear weapons site at Maralinga: implications for human exposure

John Harrison*, G. P.L. Naylor, J. W. Stather

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The gastrointestinal absorption of plutonium and americium present in dusts from the Maralinga test sites in South Australia has been measured as an input to dose assessments. The materials studied were from three different areas, designated Taranaki (Q380II), TM100 (10/2) and N. Plume (26). The three dusts were fed to groups of rats, mixed with their normal food. The Taranaki and TM100 dusts were also fed to guinea pigs, as a suspension in water. Expressed as fractional absorption from the gastrointestinal tract (f,), the values obtained for plutonium were 2 × 10-6 and 8 × 10-6 for Taranaki dust in rats and guinea pigs, respectively, 3 × 10-6 and 10-5 for TM100 dust in rats and guinea pigs, respectively, and 2 × 10-6 for N. Plume dust in rats. The f1 values obtained for americium were 3 × 10-6 and 2 × 10-5 for Taranaki dust in rats and guinea pigs, respectively, 10-5 and 5 × 10-5 for Taranaki dust in rats and guinea pigs, respectively, and 10-5 for N. Plume dust in rats. On the basis of these results, rounded f1 values used in the dose assessments were 10-5 for plutonium and 10-4 for americium, applying to all intakes of dust. These values compare with the International Commission on Radiological Protection recommendations of 10-3 for unspecified chemical forms of both elements, 10-4 for plutonium nitrate and 10-5 for plutonium oxides. The effect of changes in f1 values on doses from 239Pu and 241Am is considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-220
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment, The
Volume143
Issue number2-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 1994

Keywords

  • Americium
  • Gastrointestinal absorption
  • Gut transfer
  • Maralinga
  • Plutonium

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