Accumulation of 137cesium and 90strontium from abiotic and biotic sources in rodents at Chornobyl, Ukraine

R. K. Chesser, B. E. Rodgers, J. K. Wickliffe, S. Gaschak, I. Chizhevsky, C. J. Phillips, R. J. Baker

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Bank voles (Clethrionomys Glareolus) and laboratory strains of house mice (Mus Musculus BALB and C57BL) were relocated into enclosures in a highly contaminated area of the Red Forest near the Chornobyl (Ukraine) Reactor 4 to evaluate the uptake rates of 137Cs and 90Sr from abiotic sources. Mice were provided with uncontaminated food supplies, ensuring that uptake of radionuclides was through soil ingestion, inhalation, or water. Mice were sampled before introduction and were reanalyzed every 10 d for 137CS uptake. Levels of 90Sr were assessed in subsamples from the native populations and in experimental animals at the termination of the study. Uptake rates in house mice were greater than those in voles for both 137Cs and 90Sr. Daily uptake rates in house mice were estimated at 2.72 × 1012 unstable atoms per gram (whole body) for 137Cs and 4.04 × 1010 unstable atoms per gram for 90Sr. Comparable rates in voles were 2.26 × 1011 unstable atoms per gram for 137Cs and 1.94 × 1010 unstable atoms per gram for 90Sr. By comparing values from voles in the enclosures to those from wild voles caught within 50 m of the enclosures, it was estimated that only 8.5% of 137CS was incorporated from abiotic sources, leaving 91.5% being incorporated by uptake from biotic materials. The fraction of 90Sr uptake from abiotic sources was at least 66.7% (and was probably much higher). Accumulated whole-body doses during the enclosure periods were estimated as 174 mGy from intramuscular 137Cs and 68 mGy by skeletal 90Sr in house mice over 40 d and 98 mGy from 137Cs and 19 mGy from 90Sr in voles over 30 d. Thus, uptake of radionuclides from abiotic materials in the Red Forest at Chornobyl is an important source of internal contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1927-1935
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2001


  • Chernobyl
  • Chornobyl
  • Dose
  • Radiation
  • Rodents


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