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Ruttenber A. James Jr.; Kreiss, Kathleen; Douglas, Richard L.; Buhl, Thomas E.; Millard, Jere
Health Physics: July 1984
Papers: PDF Only

This study provides an assessment of human exposure to radiation from a river system contaminated by radionuclides of the 238U decay series released through a dam break at a uranium mill tailings pond and by the continuous discharge of dewatering effluent from 2 uranium mines. The in vivo analyses of radionuclides in 6 Navajo Indians who lived near the river indicate no detectable elevations above background concentrations. Dose estimates for inhalation of suspended river sediment indicate a maximum annual 50-yr dose commitment of 204 mrem to the endosteum. Estimates of doses (50-yr dose commitments) from the ingestion of livestock range between 1 mrem (to liver) and 79 mrem (to bone) suggest that the major contribution to human exposure is from mine dewatering effluent that has been continuously released into the river system for many years. Although the estimated exposures do not exceed existing state or federal regulations, their magnitude justifies further measurement of radionuclides in animals and in the natural environment and the consideration of strategies to reduce radiation exposure to humans and animals.

©1984Health Physics Society