Actinides in deer tissues at the rocky flats environmental technology site



Limited hunting of deer at the future Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge has been proposed in U.S. Fish and Wildlife planning documents as a compatible wildlife-dependent public use. Historically, Rocky Flats site activities resulted in the contamination of surface environmental media with actinides, including isotopes of americium, plutonium, and uranium. In this study, measurements of actinides [Americium-241 (241Am); Plutonium-238 (238Pu); Plutonium-239,240 (239,240Pu); uranium-233,244 (233,234U); uranium-235,236 (235,236U); and uranium-238 (238U)] were completed on select liver, muscle, lung, bone, and kidney tissue samples harvested from resident Rocky Flats deer (N = 26) and control deer (N = 1). In total, only 17 of the more than 450 individual isotopic analyses conducted on Rocky Flats deer tissue samples measured actinide concentrations above method detection limits. Of these 17 detects, only 2 analyses, with analytical uncertainty values added, exceeded threshold values calculated around a 1 × 10−6 risk level (isotopic americium, 0.01 pCi/g; isotopic plutonium, 0.02 pCi/g; isotopic uranium, 0.2 pCi/g). Subsequent, conservative risk calculations suggest minimal human risk associated with ingestion of these edible deer tissues. The maximum calculated risk level in this study (4.73 × 10−6) is at the low end of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable risk range.