The disposal of radioactive wastes in Arctic seas has made it important to understand the processes affecting the accumulation of radionuclides in food webs in coldwater ecosystems. We examined the effects of temperature on radionuclide assimilation and retention by the bioindicator bivalve Macoma balthica using three representative nuclear waste components, 241Am, 57Co, and 137Cs. Experiments were designed to determine the kinetics of processes that control uptake from food and water, as well as kinetic constants of loss. 137Cs was not accumulated in soft tissue from water during short exposures, and was rapidly lost from shell with no thermal dependence. No effects of temperature on 57Co assimilation or retention from food were observed. The only substantial effect of polar temperatures was that on the assimilation efficiency of 241Am from food, where 10% was assimilated at 2??C and 26% at 12??C. For all three radionuclides, body distributions were correlated with source, with most radioactivity obtained from water found in the shell and food in the soft tissues. These results suggest that in general Arctic conditions had relatively small effects on the biological processes which influence the bioaccumulation of radioactive wastes, and bivalve concentration factors may not be appreciably different between polar and temperate waters.
Additional publication details
Effects of arctic temperatures on distribution and retention of the nuclear waste radionuclides 241Am, 57Co, and 137Cs in the bioindicator bivalve Macoma balthica