Caesium, Caesium 137, Chernobyl fallout, Chernobyl nuclear accident, Chernobyl nuclear power plant, deposition radionuclides, Finland, food contamination, forests, Fukushima, lichens, Norway, radiocaesium, radionuclides in bone, radionuclides in liver, radionuclides in meat, radionuclides in skeleton, Reindeer, remediation, sheep, soil contamination, strontium, Strontium 90, Sweden, UK
This is a continuation of: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/radioactive-reindeer-part-ii/
Forget eating reindeer — let them pull a sleigh or cart instead!
It is worth recalling that fallout from Chernobyl impacted not only Finnish and Scandinavian Reindeer, but also British sheep up until June 2012:
“Britain’s farmers still restricted by Chernobyl nuclear fallout
Environmentalists say controls on 369 farms highlight danger of plans to build nuclear plants around UK” By Terry Macalister and Helen Carter, theguardian.com, Tuesday 12 May 2009 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/may/12/farmers-restricted-chernobyl-disaster
“Following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, controls were placed on sheep farmed in certain upland areas of the UK in order to protect food safety. Following a review of the evidence and a 12-week public consultation, the Board of the Food Standards Agency agreed the lifting of the last of these controls with effect on 1 June 2012.” http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/radiologicalresearch/radiosurv/chernobyl/#.UtDZx3-9KSM
Since the Nuclear Weapons Test fallout of the 1950s and 1960s, the high transfer of radionuclides to reindeer has been known. At first this is because Reindeer eat lichens, especially in the winter. Since lichens have no roots, they absorb both nutrients and contaminants from the air and the precipitation. Lichens grow slowly. Reindeer have a slower metabolism during the winter. Additionally they have a low mineral intake on the lichen diet. Thus, they have low excretion of minerals during the winter. See: Skuterud, Åhman et. al. (2009) “NKS-B REIN Regional differences in reindeer radiocaesium contamination” http://www.nks.org/download/seminar/2009_jss/JSS_2-3.pdf
This appears to support the idea that if either the lichens or reindeer had high potassium levels that they would have less caesium contamination. As well, it suggests that low excretion rates due to a slower metabolic rate in winter – a sort of quasi hibernation – means that there is not as much turnover of minerals, that is, not as much excretion. Hence, it seems that the caesium would be stuck in the body for longer periods of time.
The situation, however, only gets worse, because within 3 to 7 years after fallout the caesium becomes fixed in the soil matrix:
“fixation of Cs to the soil matrix is complete 3 – 7 years after fallout, and thereafter there is little change in transfer rates to plants. In peat soils there are reports of lacking ageing processes for Cs (Ehlken and Kirchner, 1996; Rigol et al., 2002). Consequently, variable long-term trends in 137Cs concentrations in plants in natural pastures have been reported (Gaare et al., 2000; Andersson et al., 2001; Strebl et al., 2002).
Removal of external contamination and fixation of Cs to soil particles are potential explanations for a relatively rapid decline observed e.g. in bilberries in Vindeln, Sweden, from 1986 to 1988 (Rissanen et al., 2005). Thereafter there was no observable decline in concentrations during 1988 – 1994. Of 11 different plants sampled in Kuusamo, Finland, during 1988 – 2003, only 6 species showed significantly declining 137Cs concentrations (of which 2 species were mosses; Rissanen et al., 2005). Excluding the half-times in mosses, which were similar to those in lichens, the half-times observed by Rissanen et al. (2005) were 9-14 years.”
“Long-term decline of radiocaesium in Fennoscandian reindeer” Skuterud, Åhman, et. al. (2009) http://www.risoe.dk/rispubl/NKS/NKS-193.pdf
And, although eating predominantly lichen in the winter,
“During the summer and autumn the reindeer graze on protein-rich vegetation and accumulate energy and protein reserves for the winter (e.g. McEwan & Whitehead, 1970; Reimers, 1980; Helle & Kojola, 1994). In August and September the fruiting body mushrooms become an important source of protein (Boertje, 1990)” See: “Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) feeding on lichens and mushrooms: traditional ecological knowledge among reindeer-herding Sami in northern Sweden.” By Berit Inga (2007) Rangifer, 27 (2): 93-106 http://septentrio.uit.no/index.php/rangifer/article/download/163/152
Furthermore, “Due to the relatively rapid and continuous decline of radiocaesium concentration in lichens, as opposed to the slower decline in many plant species, the initially elevated concentrations in lichens will ultimately become comparable to or lower than those in plants. The currently similar concentrations in lichens and plants in an area of low Chernobyl fallout …illustrates that concentrations in lichens and some plants are comparable even in some of the most contaminated areas of the Nordic countries.
With time the most contaminated constituents of the reindeer diet will be species with high root uptake, like some species growing on wetland and particularly on nutrient-poor mires (Rissanen and Ylipeiti, 2003).” http://www.risoe.dk/rispubl/NKS/NKS-193.pdf
Here we go again: nutrient poor means that the poor plants uptake a lot more caesium, because they have a marginal nutritional status, and both mire and plants appear more prone to sucking up caesium for want of potassium. Note that they speak of wetlands, i.e., water saturated lands. According to Wikipedia, Caesium “is among the most problematic of the short-to-medium-lifetime fission products because it easily moves and spreads in nature due to the high water solubility of caesium’s most common chemical compounds, which are salts“. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesium-137
What is a mire?
“Mire: Used mainly in Europe to include any peat-forming wetland (bog or fen).”
“Bog: Peat accumulation usually dominated by moss. Receives only direct precipitation; characterized by acid water, low alkalinity, and low nutrients.” http://academic.emporia.edu/aberjame/wetland/define/define.htm
And, indeed, the UK government notes:
“In 1986, an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former USSR (now Ukraine) released large quantities of radioactivity into the atmosphere. Some of this radioactivity, predominantly radiocaesium, was deposited on certain upland areas of the UK, where sheep farming is the primary land-use.
Due to the particular chemical and physical properties of the peaty soils present in these upland areas, the radiocaesium was able to pass easily from soil to grass and hence accumulated in sheep.
Widespread monitoring following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 identified potential food safety concerns due to levels of radiocaesium in the meat of sheep grazing these upland areas of the UK. In order to protect food safety, restrictions were placed on around 9,800 UK holdings with more than four million sheep.” (bold added) http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/radiologicalresearch/radiosurv/chernobyl/#.UtDZx3-9KSM
Let’s not fool ourselves, however. It is not only caesium which can contaminate the soil, but strontium is of particular importance because it mimics calcium. There are many other radionuclides, which contaminate food sources, as well. (We have already discussed iodine, at length).
Maria B. Oncsik (2002-2003) of the Research Institute for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Irrigation in Hungary notes that
“The transfer of radiocesaesium and radiostrontium from contaminated soil to plants has been studied extensively throughout the world since the 1960s. Numerous laboratory and field experiments with artificially contaminated soil, and studies on the transfer of radionuclides from test weapons and radiation accidents fallout have yielded the basic understanding of the processes and factors governing the uptake of strontium and ceasium by plants (Krouglev et al. 1997, Papastefanou et al. 2002, Rauret et al. 1995). A special emphasis was given to the long-term trend in plant availability of radionuclides. It is now well established that changes in the radionuclide soil-to-plant transfer depend on the interactions of a large number of factors acting on both plant physiology and soil chemistry levels (Massas et al. 2002, Simon 1996).” http://hsbwgt.bsz-bw.de/frontdoor/deliver/index/docId/3/file/ESNA_2002_Warzawa_WG3_Proceedings.pdf (NB: Maria Oncsik has numerous papers on this topic and continues to do research).
Nisbet (1993) has written a paper on countermeasures for radiocaesium and radiostrontium:
“Effect of soil-based countermeasures on solid-liquid equilibria in agricultural soils contaminated with radiocaesium and radiostrontium”
A.F. Nisbet, National Radiological Protection Board, UK
“Science of The Total Environment
Volume 137, Issues 1–3, 2–4 September 1993, Pages 99–118
The effect of applying soil-based countermeasures to agricultural soils contaminated with radiocaesium and radiostrontium is discussed in terms of their effects on solid-liquid equilibria in soils. This information is then used as a basis for producing preliminary guidelines for determining the applicability of potential soil treatments under a range of soil conditions. Potassium is the most effective soil-based countermeasure for radiocaesium contaminated soils, whilst calcium and to a lesser extent organic matter are good ameliorants for radiostrontium. Soils contaminated with radiocaesium should be tested for their potassium supply characteristics, organic matter status, clay mineralogy and lime requirements so that optimum levels of potassium fertilisation can be set. In a similar way, determining the calcium status and Ca:Sr selectivity of radiostrontium-contaminated soils enables optimum rates of liming to be set for different soil types. Complementary batch equilibrium studies may then be conducted on contaminated soils in order to check the effects of these different treatments and treatment rates on radionuclide desorption and 90Sr:Ca and 137Cs:K ratios in soil solution. Special attention must be given to soils contaminated with mixed deposits of radiocaesium and radiostrontium as the beneficial effects of a countermeasure for reducing soil-to-plant transfer of one radionuclide might be offset by detrimental effects on the uptake of the other radionuclides present.” http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0048-9697(93)90380-O The entire article, available at the link, is free for some and very costly for others.
Nisbet is also the lead author on the following 156 page document dealing with contamination countermeasures, some or even most of which are worrisome: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1194947379859 The better ones are, of course, adding potassium and calcium to the soil. However, using the land for the growing of wool, cotton and biodiesel appear potentially worrisome. Will they filter the radiation out before the biodiesel is burned or will it let lose the radiation into the air? Will clothing be contaminated? What about the sheep and the farm workers? We worry, as well, if algae is used to clean the contaminated water at Fukushima, as is being examined, what they intend to do with it? Dispose of the algae properly or will they feed it to livestock or humans or use it for biodiesel and pollute the air? It will not get rid of the tritium and most, or all, of the other radionuclides can be filtered out.
In Northern Finland from 2005 to 2008, Leccinum and Russula were the most contaminated species of plants. Above are two examples of these mushroom species. In Norway from 2001-2003, the most contaminated were Russula and Rumex acetosa (Sorrel).
See: Skuterud, Ahmed et. al. (2009) http://www.risoe.dk/rispubl/NKS/NKS-193.pdf
Rumex acestosa (Sorrel)
Hence, we see movement of the caesium from lichens, where it was initially concentrated, into the broader environment. Thus, from lichens, which reindeer eat more of in the winter, to foods which they eat at other times of the year, such as mushrooms and sorrel. And, so, effective half-life in reindeer appears to have given way to the real half-life of caesium: “the current slow decline in concentrations, which will maintain the consequences of the Chernobyl deposition for Swedish and Norwegian reindeer husbandry for at least another 10-20 years, have not previously been observed nor predicted. In the Chernobyl affected areas 137Cs concentrations in reindeer initially declined by effective half-times of 3-4 years, whereas the current decline appears to be mainly governed by the nuclide’s physical half-life (30 years)“(Skuterud, Ahman et. al. 2009, “Long-term decline of radiocaesium in Fennoscandian reindeer.) http://www.risoe.dk/rispubl/NKS/NKS-193.pdf
Tuesday 14 January 2014 (Continuation)
Below are the graphs with the detailed information about reindeer food testing, which indicated that mushrooms and sorrel were the most contaminated:
From Skuterud, Ahman et. al. 2009, p. 5
From Skuterud, Ahman et. al. 2009, p. 6
Caesium, which mimics potassium and has a half-life of 30 years, is bad enough, but it is not the only radionuclide from fallout. Plutonium 239 has a half life of 24,100 yrs and Plutonium 240 has a half-life of 6,560 years. Furthermore, “External exposure to plutonium poses very little health risk, since plutonium isotopes emit alpha radiation, and almost no beta or gamma radiation. In contrast, internal exposure to plutonium is an extremely serious health hazard. It generally stays in the body for decades, exposing organs and tissues to radiation, and increasing the risk of cancer. Plutonium is also a toxic metal, and may cause damage to the kidneys.” “People may inhale plutonium as a contaminant in dust. It can also be ingested with food or water” “People who live near nuclear weapons production or testing sites may have increased exposure to plutonium, primarily through particles in the air, but possibly from water as well. Plants growing in contaminated soil can absorb small amounts of plutonium.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/plutonium.html
Research demonstrates the presence of Chernobyl Plutonium, like Caesium, far away in Sweden, as discussed in this article:
“Downward Migration of Chernobyl-derived Radionuclides in Soils in Poland and Sweden”
Matisoff, Vitko et. al. (2011) Applied Geochemistry 01/2011; 26(1):105-115.
“The Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986 resulted in significant fallout of radionuclides such as 137Cs and 239,240Pu on surface soils throughout northern Europe. Knowledge of the dynamics and mechanisms of the migration of these radionuclides in soils is important for determining animal and human dose exposure rates, determining exposure from food-chain transfer, and in planning environmental remediation and clean-up…. Despite the use of these radionuclides and their activity-depth profiles, little is known about how the profile shapes develop or why they differ with location. There is a substantial amount of information that is embedded in the distribution of radionuclides with depth that could be extracted to refine our ability to understand significant radiochemical behavior, to predict dose exposure rates, to better plan environmental remediation, to use these and other radionuclides to understand soil erosion mechanisms, to identify sediment source areas and to calculate watershed inventories and residence times for better understanding of watershed retention and erosion processes. Moreover, ignoring this evidence may lead to a real risk of drawing incorrect conclusions from an incomplete understanding of the radionuclide profiles.
The 137Cs fallout by Chernobyl is about 30 times greater than that from bomb fallout at the three sites in Poland and about 300 times greater than at the two sites in Sweden.
A time series of the 137Cs profiles indicates that the peak in 137Cs activity occurred at the soil surface in 1987, but migrated downcore about 4 cm since, and that some 137Cs activity can now be found as deep as 20 cm. The amount of downward migration is different at the different locations. This is likely due to the different types of soils, where some soils are dominated by mineral matter and others by organic matter. At Hille at a depth of 32 cm there is a second, small peak that might be the 1963 fallout peak“. http://www.radioecology.info/Bergen2008/proceedings/174.%20Matisoff%20Gerald%20OP.pdf
J. Paatero et.al. 2011, tell us, regarding the Chernobyl fallout, that “At the Department of Radiochemistry at the University of Helsinki, the deposition of the transuranium elements plutonium, americium, and curium, and their transfer along the terrestrial food chains and in lakes, was thoroughly investigated (Paatero, 2000; Paatero & Jaakkola, 1998; Paatero et al., 1998; Pilviö, 1998; Salminen et al., 2005). The deposition of 239,240Pu, 241Am, and 244Cm in most of the reindeer husbandry area was <0.25 Bq/m2, <0.036 Bq/m2, and <0.023 Bq/m2, respectively. Only in the southernmost reindeer herding district of Halla were the deposition values some three times higher. The biological half-lives of plutonium and americium in lichen (Cladonia sp.) were found to be 730 and 320 days, respectively. The activity concentrations of 239,240Pu in reindeer liver (0.0094–0.062 Bq/kg dry weight) were low compared with the concentrations found in the 1960s, even though most of the samples were from the Halla reindeer herding district. However, the 241Pu activity concentrations found were comparable to those observed in the 1960s. 137Cs was found to transfer from fallout to reindeer meat 100 times more efficiently than americium and 10,000 times more efficiently than plutonium.” From J. Paarero et. al. 2011, “Ch 12: Chernobyl Observations in Finland and Sweden“, in “Aerosol Science and Technology: History and Reviews” 2011, RTI, D. Ensor, ed. http://www.rti.org/pubs/bk-0003-1109-chapter12.pdf This suggests that, at least, one reason that so much more focus is placed on Caesium is because it is taken up by reindeer 100 times more efficiently than Americium and 10,000 times more efficiently than plutonium. We assume that this is because it mimics potassium. We do not know if this has changed over time. Nonetheless, we remain concerned since we read that Portuguese who ate sardines routinely are found to have higher rates of plutonium. Sardines are tiny fish, low on the food chain. Perhaps, it is because people eat the bones. Plutonium, like Strontium, has been called a bone-seeker.
Skuterud, Ahman, et. al., 2009, in their summary article tell us that the caesium content of lichens is more long-lasting than that of other radionuclides. We know that reindeer eat lichens in winter, whether because they love them or because that’s all there is. And, the lichens would take the caesium up, like it was potassium:
“The physical and chemical properties of the radionuclides will determine their behaviour. The content of radiocaesium in lichens has been found to diminish slower than the content of 90Sr, 95Zr, 103Ru, 106Ru, 110mAg, 125Sb and 144Ce (Nevstrueva et al., 1967; Tuominen and Jaakkola, 1974; Lehto et al., 2008), possibly because caesium is more efficiently taken up and retained by the lichen (together with nutrients such as potassium).
Climate may influence transfer of radiocaesium to reindeer, as well as long-term trends in concentrations in reindeer, by affecting:
• Weathering of 137 Cs from the lichen carpet (cf. Lehto et al., 2008). Weathering-rates are probably influenced by meteorological factors like wind and precipitation (total amounts, proportions as snow and rain etc.), and weathering-rates may therefore differ between climatically different areas.
• Lichen growth rates. Fresh growth of lichen will add mass and hence reduce the concentration of the deposited contamination, and may also affect weathering of external contamination. Lichens grow proportionally to amount of rainfall (Kärenlampi, 1971), thus growth-rates may vary with climate. Furthermore, climatic factors like temperatures and length of growing seasons will influence lichen growth.
• Composition of plant communities and thereby proportions of lichen and plants in the reindeer diet
• Soil-to-plant uptake of 137Cs” Skuterud, Ahman, et. al., 2009, p. 12 http://www.risoe.dk/rispubl/NKS/NKS-193.pdf
It is worth noting that:
“Radioactive cesium can also be released to soil or water in liquid effluents from spent fuel and fuel reprocessing plant” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp157-c2.pdf
Thursday, 16 January 2014 (continuation)
In this video, at around 1 minute 40 seconds, they note that by using radioactive isotopes, scientists discovered that trees share water and nutrients.
Paarero et. al. (2011) tell us:
“In forest science, the alkali metal cesium isotopes were employed as timed tracers to study nutrient cycles and canopy interactions since all of the cesium radioactivity exceeding the background level were of this origin. Cesium is chemically analogous to potassium and is supposed to behave the same way as potassium in plant metabolism (Hari, 1988; Hari et al., 1986). The cycling of cesium in a young Scots pine stand was investigated in 1986 and 1987 at the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station in central Finland by collecting needles from 13 randomly located trees. Cesium concentrations decreased slowly during the summer of 1986 because of the leaching process, but a sharp increase in cesium was observed in new needles formed during late summer 1987. Since new needles had not formed during the deposition phase, the only way for cesium to get into the new needles was by metabolic transport. Cesium can be metabolized directly through the leaves or through soil and solution.” (p. 354) [Although unrelated to this post, we want to mention that they also point out on pp. 353-354 that radioactive dust can fly through windows and be tracked into houses with shoes. ] (J. Paarero et.al. 2011 “Ch 12: Chernobyl Observations in Finland and Sweden“, in “Aerosol Science and Technology: History and Reviews” 2011, RTI, D. Ensor, ed. http://www.rti.org/pubs/bk-0003-1109-chapter12.pdf (Lucky that Japanese traditionally take their shoes off before entering the house, so that they don’t track in radiation).
Saturday, 18 January 2014
We found a radio interview on radiation in reindeer in Finland, and reblogged it yesterday with comment. So, no, we haven’t skipped to a number 6. We are still at 3. This was episode 6 of a series of interviews, on a variety of topics, done by a Fulbright Scholar visiting Finland for a year. The name of reblogs cannot be changed. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/episode-6-radioactive-reindeer/ From the interview:
“Ari-Pekka Leppänen, senior scientist at Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) tells us about nuclear accidents, radioactive reindeer, and an unlikely connection between Japan and Finnish Lapland.”
According to Mr. Leppänen:
“If the radiation is in lichen, it ends up into our own plate, and eventually we eat it after a given time, so if you want to have clean and healthy food, you’re not supposed to have radiation in it because it can cause harmful effects like cancer, but also other effects…These are under scientific debate, but some people say that it can cause high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, but these are not very well understood mechanisms.”
Ms. Bichell asks the question everyone wants answered: “Has there been any research on if you actually see cancer in the reindeer?” Mr. Leppänen’s response: “Not that I know of. The system is that 75% of the reindeer that get slaughtered are less than one year old, so they don’t have time to accumulate the cancer. And only 25% are older. In the spring there’s calving, and they live through the summer and mostly to October/November and then they get slaughtered. And that’s the system that we have here in Finland.” https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/episode-6-radioactive-reindeer/ (bold added for emphasis)
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
According to J. Paarero et. al. 2011 “Ch 12: Chernobyl Observations in Finland and Sweden“, in “Aerosol Science and Technology: History and Reviews” 2011, RTI, D. Ensor, ed. http://www.rti.org/pubs/bk-0003-1109-chapter12.pdf , by analyzing lichen (Hypogymnia physodes, Cladonia sp.) and Scots pine needles (Pinus sylvestris), it was found that deposition of radionuclides can vary significantly, even within a few kilometers. (p. 348)
Hypogymnia physodes, lichen.
“When wood decays, lichens appear at different stages of the decay. H. physodes is one that appears in the early stages“. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_lichen_-_Hypogymnia_physodes_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1049273.jpg
Photo and Text Attribution: Lairich Rig via Wikimedia
Cladonia sp. Photo by Sten Porse. More types are found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cladonia A picture of Reindeer Lichen, Cladonia rangiferina, appears toward the top of this post.
Importantly, Paarero et.al. 2011 indicate that the first emissions from Chernobyl “contained reactor fuel debris, including 95Zr and plutonium isotopes, while later, during the subsequent fire, the volatility of the nuclides affected the composition of the emissions.” They note that additionally “there might have been short-term criticality events that produced new fission products from the remains of the reactor core..” (p. 347) The original document has a map of plutonium fallout in Finland. http://www.rti.org/pubs/bk-0003-1109-chapter12.pdf Currently the link is dead. However, this book should be available for purchase online or for loan at a library. It is the most useful for those who want a more general understanding of the details of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl. Perhaps the link is only temporarily down. On p. 350, based on Devell et al., 1986; Lancsarics et al., 1988; Raunemaa et al., 1987, they further tell us that “The existence of radioactive hot particles in the core debris was a specific feature during the early stage of emission. These particles were highly radioactive agglomerates, being either fragments of the nuclear fuel or particles formed by interactions between condensed radionuclides, nuclear fuel, and structural reactor materials” Paarero et. al. 2011: http://www.rti.org/pubs/bk-0003-1109-chapter12.pdf (full reference above)
Another interesting paper is “Regional distribution of Chernobyl-derived plutonium deposits in Finland” in the Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 2002, 252, 2, 407-12, J. Paatero et. al. Abstract at: http://yadda.icm.edu.pl/yadda/element/bwmeta1.element.springer-f1b5b355-50e3-3540-bad6-457ce4960d6a In the abstract we learn that “The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in April 1986 caused a widely spread plume of radionuclides containing, amongst other materials, plutonium isotopes. The regional deposition of these nuclides in Finland has been assessed, based on samples of lichen, peat, precipitation, surface soil and grass.” While not surprisingly “The high deposition values found in the northeastern part of the plume route over Finland can be attributed to the simultaneous occurrence of precipitation.“, this is the first discussion we have seen that “The relatively high plutonium deposition in the southwestern part of Finland occurred, however, without concurrent precipitation. This indicates that the plutonium was at least partly associated with relatively large particles having a substantial deposition velocity due to gravitational setting. (bold added for emphasis) See entire abstract of Paatero et. al. (2002) at: http://yadda.icm.edu.pl/yadda/element/bwmeta1.element.springer-f1b5b355-50e3-3540-bad6-457ce4960d6a
Lehto, J. 2009 in “Americium in the Finnish environment“. Boreal Env. Res. 14: 427–437, discusses the research done on environmental americium, 241 Am, in Finland. On p. 432, is discussed a study on the impact of a copper smelter on the distribution of the radionuclides 241 Am (americium) and 239, 241 Pu (plutonium) in a forest environment. Airborne pollution due to proximity to the copper smelter seems to have inhibited bacterial activity, which slowed down the decomposition of litter. Lack of breakdown of litter resulted in higher concentrations (65%) of radionuclide 241 Am in the litter layers (i.e the upper parts of the forest floor). Further away from the copper smelter 75% of the radionuclide 241 Am was found in the organic layer, i.e. deeper in the forest floor.
Figure 4, p. 431, in Lehto (2009) is a bar graph of the distribution of 241 Am, 239/240 Pu (Plutonium) and 137 Cs (Caesium) in reindeer tissue and organs. Approximating, from the graph, it can be seen that 80% of the 137 Cs activity is in the meat along with almost 10% of the Plutonium and 30% of the 241 Am. Half of the Plutonium is found in the liver with small percentages of Cs and Am also found in the liver. The skeleton has about 35% of the 241 Am, 30% of the Plutonium and about 5% of 137 Cs. Over 40% of 241 Am is found in other tissues and organs, as is about 12% of 137 Cs and 10% of Plutonium.
In other words, the majority of 137 Cs activity is found in the meat, the majority of the Plutonium activity is found in the liver, and 241 Am is found about 30% in the meat, almost 40% in the skeleton, with the remaining 40% in other tissues and organs. So, this would appear to be the biggest reason for focus on Caesium in Reindeer meat. It has the greatest tendency to lodge in the meat.
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Just how does plutonium get into those locations in the body? Iron is important to almost all living beings large or small. Certainly this is the case for reindeer and humans. And, plutonium mimics iron, although not perfectly, within the body:
“Plutonium ingested by or injected into humans is transported in the transferrin based iron(III) transport system and then is stored in the liver in the iron store (ferritin), after an exposure to plutonium …Plutonium that is inhaled by humans lodges in the lungs and is slowly translocated to the lymph nodes. Inhaled plutonium has been shown to lead to lung cancer in experimental animals.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium_in_the_environment
What are transferrin and ferritin?
“Transferrins are iron-binding blood plasma glycoproteins that control the level of free iron in biological fluids …When a transferrin protein loaded with iron encounters a transferrin receptor on the surface of a cell (e.g., to erythroid precursors in the bone marrow), it binds to it and, as a consequence, is transported into the cell in a vesicle by receptor-mediated endocytosis….The metal-binding properties of transferrin have a great influence on the biochemistry of plutonium in humans.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transferrin (bold added)
“Ferritin is a ubiquitous intracellular protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion. The amount of ferritin stored reflects the amount of iron stored. The protein is produced by almost all living organisms, including algae, bacteria, higher plants, and animals. In humans, it acts as a buffer against iron deficiency and iron overload.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferritin Thus, iron is tightly controlled in the body. Hence, it is important to do your annual medical checkup and have your iron levels checked. Iron deficiency would presumably makes one more open to plutonium absorption. According to the US CDC: “Persons who are anemic due to an iron deficiency may be more susceptible to the toxic effects of plutonium. Studies by DOE (1977a) demonstrated that gastrointestinal absorption of plutonium was 4-fold higher in iron-deficient mice than in mice with normal iron levels. Therefore, persons who are iron deficient may absorb more plutonium (Sullivan and Ruemmler 1988).” http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp143-c3.pdf
BUT, since iron itself is toxic, if taken in too large quantities, you have to be tested and your doctor will suggest a supplement if it is needed. Plutonium is well-documented as causing anaemia. Although we have found no mechanism mentioned, it presumably must have to do, at least in part, with uptake and storage of plutonium instead of iron.
Some of the earliest research on humans was based on Nazi-like experiments which took place in the US, in the 1940s, where people in hospitals were injected with plutonium, without their consent. It included, for instance, a Tennessee man who broke a few bones in an auto accident and was just in the wrong hospital at the wrong time, it seems:
“The studies also showed that plutonium was similar to radium in being a bone seeker, but only a little more than half of what was retained went to the bone, compared to 99 per cent for radium. Also, the two metals deposited at different locations. Radium (similar, chemically, to calcium) deposited in mineralized bone, whereas plutonium remained on the surface in the “actively metabolizing” portion of the bone, an area intimately associated with bone marrow and the production of blood cells. (However, because plutonium deposits on the endosteal surfaces of the red marrow and the alpha particles have a limited range, the blood-forming tissue is not irradiated uniformly.)” (p. 188) From: LOS ALAMOS SCIENCE NO. 23, 1995, RADIATION PROTECTION AND THE HUMAN RADIATION EXPERIMENTS: “The Human Plutonium Injection Experiments” By William Moss and Roger Eckhardt (note these authors did NOT do the research but are only discussing it). (bold added)
According to Moss and Eckhardt, 1995, p. 190, this project was suggested to OPPENHEIMER by HEMPELMANN on 16 AUGUST 1944, almost one year before Hiroshima-Nagasaki (August 1945), less than a year before Germany surrendered (April 1945). NOTE HOWEVER THAT NOT ALL NAMED BELOW HAVE GERMAN SURNAMES. THIS IS A CLEAR EXAMPLE OF BECOMING LIKE THOSE THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO FIGHT BY USING THEIR TECHNIQUES. THIS WAS NAZI TECHNIQUES TO FIGHT THE NAZIS. ABSOLUTELY REVOLTING. WE ARE LIVING IN THE LEGACY OF THIS…WE ARE STILL ALL NUCLEAR GUINEA PIGS OF IGNORANT AND/OR EVIL PEOPLE. In all religions we are to respect the earth and its creatures – in some religions as caregivers, in some as part of creation. We are responsible for the plants and animals, like reindeer who are utterly helpless.
According to James F . McInroy, 1995, retired from Los Alamos, these injections showed that plutonium behaves somewhat differently in humans than in rats:
“Excretion data were collected from all subjects following injection of plutonium into the bloodstream, and small tissue specimens from those subjects who were terminally ill were analyzed for plutonium following their death. A number of important observations followed: 1) there were no major differences between humans and the common laboratory animals in the distribution in tissues with the exception of liver; 2) the liver of humans contained 20 to 40 per cent of the total amount retained versus 10 per cent or less for rats when both received the same plutonium-citrate complex; 3) the retention half-time in liver was greater in humans; 4) the retention half-time for whole body in humans was much longer than in laboratory animals; and 5) the excretion pattern in humans was different, especially that a much lower fraction was eliminated in human feces compared to animal feces.” (p. 236)
In a summary of 35 years of autopsies done at Los Alamos indicated that:
“the major deposition sites” were “the lungs and associated lymph nodes, the liver, and the skeleton. These three organs contain about 90 per cent or more of the retained plutonium. Determining the lung, and liver content is straight forward, since these organs are easily obtained at autopsy and are small enough to be analyzed in total.
The skeletal content is much more difficult to determine, but is a critical measurement since about half of the systemic burden (internal to the body and exclusive of the lungs) is in the skeleton….unlike radium, which is distributed somewhat uniformly throughout the bone mineral, plutonium is deposited on the bone surface…. Red marrow is the site for the production of the red blood cells and the granular leukocytes. It is found in the spongy portions of the flat and short bones, the ends of the long bones, the ribs, sternum, and vertebral bodies…Because plutonium deposits on the bone surfaces, and spongy bone has a high surface area, the distribution of plutonium within a bone is proportional to the distribution of the spongy bone. Figure 3, showing the distribution of plutonium in the large thigh bone called the femur, illustrates this very well. Most of the plutonium is located at the two ends of the femur, which contain most of the spongy tissue.
Given this pattern of deposition, the primary carcinogenic risk from plutonium in the skeleton is associated with the hematopoietic stem cells (blood-forming cells) of the bone marrow, which fills the spongy structure, and osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) close to the bone surfaces. Plutonium in or near the bone marrow might lead to leukemia, where-as plutonium on the bone surface might lead to osteosarcoma.” (p. 242-243)
“The data also show that liver concentrations increase slightly with age and skeletal concentrations decrease. Evidently, as time passes a remobilization of the bone mineral releases plutonium from the skeleton, which then deposits in the liver” (p. 248) LOS ALAMOS SCIENCE NO. 23, 1995 RADIATION PROTECTION AND THE HUMAN RADIATION EXPERIMENTS “A TRUE MEASURE OF EXPOSURE the human tissue analysis program at Los Alamos” by James F . McInroy (bold added for emphasis)
Did you see that? Oh, great! Along with osteoporosis in old age one gets remobilization of plutonium in the body! Of course, most of the poor reindeer don’t even get to live to old age!
A more recent and groundbreaking study is that of Mark Jensen, 2012, of Argonne National Laboratory, et. al. They have found that Plutonium can enter cells on tranferrin, but only if it travels along with iron. The authors tell us (Fe is iron and Pu is plutonium):
“Organisms have no natural mechanism for specifically recognizing plutonium (Pu) as it is a non-essential element that until 1941 only existed on earth in biologically insignificant concentrations for at least the last two billion years.” Furthermore plutonium (Pu) is radiotoxic “and is strongly retained by organisms1, Pu uptake from an accident, environmental contamination, or a nuclear or radiological attack can pose significant health risks. Plutonium localizes principally in the liver and skeleton in humans where it remains for decades2. It associates in vivo with the iron-containing proteins serum transferrin and ferritin3,….
Transferrin functions to strongly bind and carry two Fe3+ ions into cells, but it also binds Pu4+ strongly12 ….Diferric transferrin (holo-transferrin, Fe2Tf) delivers iron to mammalian cells through receptor-mediated endocytosis in a multi-step process….to be taken into the cell by receptor-mediated endocytosis, Pu needed help from Fe because only one isomer of the monoplutonium-monoiron-transferrin complex” [is] “active…Pu4+ tends to form complexes that are about as stable as those of trivalent first row transition metals, notably Fe3+, because the metals’ charge to radius ratios are similar1,11. These properties give plutonium a chemistry that partly resembles transition metals, especially iron. The chemical similarities of Fe and Pu are particularly important to the metal transport protein serum transferrin (Tf). Transferrin functions to strongly bind and carry two Fe3+ ions into cells, but it also binds Pu4+ strongly12…” From NIH library: www. ncbi .nlm .nih. gov/ pmc /articles /PMC3462652/
Saturday, 25 January 2014
While everyone still has in mind the poor reindeer, Sami reindeer herders, and the poor man who got into an auto accident at the wrong time in the wrong place and got injected with plutonium, we must mention the idea of group sin. Nuclear everything is both individual and group sin-evil. Anything so destructive to life is evil. However, the reindeer did not sin. Nor, did the Sami, nor the man who walked into the wrong hospital. This is group, communal sin and individual sins of others impacting hapless innocent victims. In some religions this is called group or communal karma. For those who are discouraged by all of this evil, we point out Leslie Weatherhead’s “The Will of God”. He distinguishes between God’s intentional will; God’s circumstantial will, and God’s ultimate will. This is a serious discussion as it was written in the shadow of London in World War II.
We have seen the ability of plutonium to mimic iron and ride into the cell on transferrin, as well as being stored in ferritin. It appears that it may mimic other necessary minerals (metals) within the body. Aryal et. al. (2012) have found additional proteins which interact with plutonium and may be involved with the movement and storage (“trafficking and sequestration”) of plutonium within the cells of mammals (includes Reindeer, Sheep, mice, rats, people, etc). Plutonium is a new element, unknown to the body, so normally these proteins bind other metal ions, such as calcium, copper and zinc. Some of these proteins play roles in cell destruction. The research suggests that “plutonium may selectively stimulate these proteins for cancer development in a new way“. (Aryal et. al. Ref. below). Note that cell destruction (Apoptosis) is important. An insufficient amount, for instance, results in uncontrolled cell proliferation, such as tumours. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apoptosis
Aryal et. al. (2012) point out that “Plutonium can enter the body through different routes and remains there for decades; however its specific biochemical interactions are poorly defined…..Plutonium is a toxic synthetic element produced in nuclear reactors. It has no useful biological function. There are currently more than 1000 metric tons of plutonium in the world, and the chances of accidental exposure to plutonium or other synthetic actinide elements is increasing with the increasing worldwide reliance on nuclear energy. Understanding how to limit the biological hazards of plutonium depends on understanding its interaction with the biological environment. Consequently, the biology of plutonium has been of interest since the element was discovered in the 1940s…Plutonium can exist in four different oxidation states (Pu(III), Pu(IV), Pu(V), and Pu(VI)) under normal environmental conditions.7, 8 Pu(IV) has been of particular interest due to its relative stability in cells …plutonium binding to proteins [is] strictly adventitious. An important example of this is that Pu(IV) partially follows Fe(III) biochemistry, associating with the extracellular iron transport protein transferrin and the intracellular iron storage protein ferritin.14 In addition to the known transferrin-mediated iron uptake pathway,15 plutonium likely also follows other pathways to enter cells…” From Aryal, Paunesku, Woloschak, Chuan He, and Jensen, 2012: “A Proteomic Approach to Identification of Plutonium Binding Proteins in Mammalian Cells” J Proteomics. 2012 February 16; 75(5): 1505–1514 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3688465/pdf/nihms480995.pdf (bold added)
Remember that, like iron, plutonium is a metal, albeit a radioactive one. Before continuing to the conclusions of Aryal et. al. (2012) we must address some questions:
What is a Metalloprotein? It “is a generic term for a protein that contains a metal ion cofactor… metalloproteins have many different functions in cells…” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metalloprotein. The best known example is hemoglobin, containing iron: “Hemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the respiratory organs (lungs or gills) to the rest of the body.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemoglobin
What is proteomics? “…the large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proteomics
From the above it isn’t much of a leap to conclude what metalloproteomics is:
“Metalloproteomics includes approaches that address the expression of metalloproteins and their changes in biological time and space“. Maret W. “Metalloproteomics, metalloproteomes, and the annotation of metalloproteins“, in Metallomics. 2010 Feb;2(2):117-25 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21069142
What is “antiapoptotic“? “Something that prevents apoptosis. Apoptosis is a type of cell death in which a series of molecular steps in a cell leads to its death“. http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?cdrid=390240
Returning to B. P. Aryal et. al. (2012) (et. al. includes M. Jensen, seen earlier), in the abstract they state that they “for the first time, have studied plutonium-binding proteins using a metalloproteomic approach with rat PC12 cells…Our results show that several proteins from PC12 cells show affinity towards Pu4+-NTA (plutonium bound to nitrilotriacetic acid)…In contrast to the previously known plutonium-binding proteins transferrin and ferritin, which bind ferric ions, most identified proteins in our experiment are known to bind calcium, magnesium, or divalent transition metal ions. The identified plutonium interacting proteins also have functional roles in downregulation of apoptosis and other pro-proliferative processes. MetaCore analysis based on this group of proteins produced a pathway with a statistically significant association with development of neoplastic diseases.” [i.e. tumours] In their conclusions they state that:
“Our results show that in addition to the iron binding proteins transferrin and ferritin, which have long been known to bind plutonium, there are other proteins that interact with plutonium and could be involved in intracellular Pu trafficking and sequestration in mammalian cells. Proteins identified from the Pu-NTA IMAC have anti-apoptosis roles and most are known or predicted to bind other metal ions. The interactions of plutonium with proteins that have anti-apoptotic functions suggest that plutonium may selectively stimulate these proteins for cancer development in a new way, which remains to be understood and requires thorough investigation. Even if plutonium does not induce cancer directly through chemical means, might the intracellular biochemical interactions of plutonium predispose cells for radiation-induced neoplasia? More experiments are required to understand the specific or non-specific binding of plutonium with these proteins, the role of these individual proteins for plutonium trafficking inside the mammalian cells, and the possible carcinogenic effects of plutonium’s interactions with these proteins. Expression, purification, and full characterization of the identified proteins are underway to understand how plutonium interacts with these proteins and the possible roles of these proteins in plutonium uptake and distribution within the cells. Understanding the plutonium-binding properties of these proteins will help researchers understand the mechanisms of plutonium toxicity, knowledge that can be translated to more effective therapeutic agents to protect radiation workers and civilians from plutonium poisoning.” Aryal, Paunesku, Woloschak, Chuan He, and Jensen,2012: “A Proteomic Approach to Identification of Plutonium Binding Proteins in Mammalian Cells“. J Proteomics. 2012 February 16; 75(5): 1505–1514 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3688465/pdf/nihms480995.pdf (bold added for emphasis)
Monday, 27 January 2014
“Construction of the Hanford B Reactor, the first industrial-sized nuclear reactor for the purposes of material production, was completed in March 1945. B Reactor produced the fissile material for the plutonium weapons used during World War II. B, D and F were the initial reactors built at Hanford, and six additional plutonium-producing reactors were built later at the site“. (Ref. Wahlen, 1989, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium ) See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium_in_the_environment
According to Dr. Kate Brown, who wrote the 2013 book “Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters“, over the course of four decades, the reactors at Hanford and Maiak each released twice as many radioactive isotopes into the surrounding environment, as the amount from Chernobyl. Furthermore, “Most of these toxic releases over the years …were part of normal operating procedure…most of the releases were intentional. Accidents occurred and plant management covered up knowledge of them as the pollution continued unabated. As threats from this pollution to health and the environment persist, Professor Brown contends, the government and its contractors keep knowledge of the dangers from the public.” From “Kate Brown: Nuclear ‘Plutopias’ the Largest Welfare Program in American History (INTERVIEW)” by Robin Lindley http://hnn.us/article/153096
The article seems to have a typo as to the amount of radiation because the number cited is significantly less than Chernobyl and less than even one event cited for Hanford. Just for one incidence at Hanford “5,500 to 12,000 curies (200 to 440 TBq) of iodine-131…and an even greater amount of xenon-133” are said to have been released. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Run TBq (terabecquerel, 1012 Bq) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Becquerel
What about Windscale-Sellafield in the UK?. For the 1957 fire “There was a release of radioactive material that spread across the UK and Europe… Later reworking of contamination data has shown national and international contamination may have been higher than previously estimated.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire This means the following numbers may be low, at least for Windscale. This excludes all of the other Sellafield releases through the years, as well. This is also not a comprehensive list of fallout contents, but only to give a rough idea. It does not tell how much plutonium was released from Fukushima.
Some citizens decided to do their own study near Hanford: “Citizens Monitoring of Columbia River Radionuclides, May 2005 – Hanford, WA” by Marco Kaltofen, PE – Boston Chemical Data Corp. Tom Carpenter – Government Accountability Project which found “Increased levels of plutonium, strontium, mercury and beryllium (nonradioactive metals), uranium, and cesium were detected in both biological and mineral samples. The finding of plutonium in freshwater asian clams in particular requires further study.” They also found radionuclides in attic dust. For Plutonium: “Plutonium 239/240 was 20-fold elevated compared to expected levels in lichens in Area 300, raising the potential for airborne plutonium sources in this location. This was also the only location sampled which was directly adjacent to populated areas. Pu238 levels in fresh water clams were routinely detectable at higher levels than in other media, making them an excellent candidate monitoring medium for future citizen testing” (bold added) http://www.whistleblower.org/storage/documents/CitizensMonitoringofColumbiaRiverRadionuclides.pdf (Did they mean Pu 238 or 239? 238 is the one that is supposed to be only a small percentage of plutonium and in short supply to go to Mars… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium-238 Now they know where it went, we guess – in the clams; maybe the rich people who are interested in space travel can just eat the clams. No shortage of Plutonium 239 and no use for it. Too bad we can’t send Pu 239, as waste, with the pro-nuclear people to another galaxy). By the way, while they didn’t test deer they tested deer poo: “scat”. Scat used to be “go away”, what we would like to tell the pro-nuclear people.
As reported by Dr. Kate Brown “many workers and others in the vicinity of the plants did not reap the benefits of these havens but were exposed to the plants’ hazards. These transitory workers worked many of the most dangerous jobs and kept the myth of safe nuclear production alive.” From “Kate Brown: Nuclear ‘Plutopias’ the Largest Welfare Program in American History (INTERVIEW)” by Robin Lindley http://hnn.us/article/153096 Sounds like the Fukushima workers doesn’t it? No follow-up. Japan has always used some temp workers. Sounds like this was the same. If you don’t monitor, you don’t find the impacts! Even reindeer and deer get monitored, to a certain extent! If there was nothing to worry about then Sellafield and the US govt. wouldn’t be monitoring deer and other animals at various sites and they seem to be doing so.
Independent research also shows:
“Cancers among residents downwind of the Hanford, Washington, plutonium production site.” Grossman CM, Nussbaum RH, Nussbaum FD.
A community-based health survey for the time period between 1944 and 1995 was collected from 801 individuals who had lived downwind of the U.S. plutonium production facility located in Hanford, Washington. The results of the survey revealed high incidences of all cancers, including thyroid cancer. There were greater than expected numbers of central nervous system tumors and cancers that invaded the female reproductive system (e.g., cancers of the uterus, ovary, cervix, and breast). The authors argue that the greater-than-expected numbers found cannot be accounted for by selection bias alone. Comparisons of crude incidence rates, as well as of occurrence ratios between pairs of cancer types among Downwinders and reasonably similar populations, suggested that the excess neoplasms may be associated with radioactive contamination of food, water, soil, and/or air. In addition, a synergistic effect may exist with agricultural toxins. Previously neglected biophysical and physiological properties of internally lodged, long-lived 129I may be a significant etiological factor in the development of thyroid diseases, including cancer, and other malignancies in exposed populations.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14738272 (bold added for emphasis) Yeah, Iodine 129, the one we don’t ever hear about or want to hear about, the one which lasts 15.7 million years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine-129 Iodine 131 is the one which lasts 8 days: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine-131 Both radioiodines could explain the thyroid cancer. However, they forget the plutonium which could be inhaled and ingested. They also forget the strontium 90, caesium, which would be ingested, and other radionuclides. These 3 would impact the central nervous system, as we know plutonium can mimic iron and apparently calcium, caesium mimics potassium, and strontium calcium.
THIS POST CONTINUES https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/radioactive-reindeer-chernobyl-guinea-pigs-part-iv-of-a-series/
Reading about the death of a man who tried to help the Children of Chernobyl inspired us to take a look at the impacts of Chernobyl on people, viewed in videos. We also took a look again at how long they have known of the dangers of ionizing radiation and a few more things. We still intend to provide additional information on iron, plutonium and the brain, along with impacts of radionuclides on muscles, tumors in plants; the impact of caesium on the heart, and some other points, as promised. But, we need to remember that we are dealing with real plants, real animals, and real people. The pro-nuclear people seem to have forgotten this point. Or, they do not care. Actually we spent more time trying to think of words to express Chernobyl, than had we done our more technical post, but none could come. We thought for hours. The horrors of nuclear render us speechless, despite having come from families who talk constantly and excessively.