Survival data for beagles at 6 dose levels of 239Pu, which range from 0.016 to 2.9 μCi 239Pu/kg injected, are compared with those for beagles that received no 239Pu. The criterion for life shortening is that defined mathematically by the Steady State Theory of Mutation Rates. A brief summary of this theory is presented. The life-shortening decreased with decreasing dose level through the first 5 levels but none was observed at the lowest level. The death rate curves for the lowest dose level and the controls were essentially coincident. Osteosarcomas do occur at this dose level, so it may be a matter of “trading of causes of death” rather than decreasing the length of the animal's life. A brief commentary on the chemistry of plutonium and the trans-plutonic elements is included. The retention and distribution of plutonium in these beagles is reviewed. Finally, suggestions are made about experimental factors that should be varied in order to evaluate the toxic effects of plutonium.
©1972Health Physics Society