Seasonal concentrations of cesium-137 in rumen content, skeletal muscles and feces of caribou from the Porcupine herd: lichen ingestion rates and implications for human consumption
AbstractThe Porcupine caribou herd was monitored for cesium-137 during 1987 to address human health concerns over potential meat contamination by radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident, and to determine lichen intake rates based on body burdens of radiocesium. A total of 36 caribou were collected from northwestern Alaska and the Yukon Territories in March, June, September, and November. Mean radiocesium concentrations in skeletal muscle peaked in March at 133 Bq/kg fresh weight. This value should not prove hazardous to human health. Radiocesium concentrations in skeletal muscle (wet weight) ranged from approximately 22 to 50% of radiocesium concentrations in rumen contents (dry weight), and from approximately 15 to 37% of radiocesium concentrations in feces (dry weight). Radioactivity in feces was significantly correlated with radioactivity in rumen contents. Computer simulations relating lichen intake rates to radiocesium body burdens are presented for 3 scenarios: (1) when seasonal intakes were adjusted to provide the optimum fit between simulated and observed radiocesium body burdens (2) when seasonal intakes were based on empirical data, and (3) when seasonal intakes were adjusted to yield a "conventional" radiocesium curve of a slow fall build-up prior to a late winter plateau.
Authors retain copyright and grant Rangifer irrevocable and non-exclusive right of publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). This means, among other things, that anyone is free to copy and distribute the content, as long as they give proper credit to the author(s) and the journal. For further information, see Creative Commons website for human readable or lawyer readable versions.