SREL Reprint #2656




Bioavailability and trophic transfer of sediment-bound Ni and U in a southeastern wetland system

T. Punshon1,2, K. F. Gaines1, and R. A. Jenkins, Jr.3

1University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802, USA
2Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Division of Life Sciences, Rutgers University, 604 Allison Road, Piscataway,
New Jersey 08854, USA
3Department of Entomology, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634, USA

Abstract: Elemental composition of soil, herbaceous and woody plant species, and the muscle and liver tissue of two common small mammal species were determined in a wetland ecosystem contaminated with Ni and U from nuclear target processing activities at the Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC. Species studied were black willow (Salix nigra L.), rushes (Juncus effusus L.), marsh rice rat (Oryzomys palustris), and cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus). Two mature trees were sampled around the perimeter of the former de facto settling basin, and transect lines sampling rushes and trapping small mammals were laid across the wetland area, close to a wooden spillway that previously enclosed the pond. Ni and U concentrations were elevated to contaminant levels; with a total concentration of 1,065 (± 54) mg kg-1 U and 526.7 (±18.3) mg kg-1 Ni within the soil. Transfer of contaminants into woody and herbaceous plant tissues was higher for Ni than for U, which appeared to remain bound to the outside of root tissues, with very little (0.03 ±0.001 mg kg-1) U detectable within the leaf tissues. This indicated a lower bioavailability of U than the cocontaminant Ni. Trees sampled from the drier margins of the pond area contained more Ni within their leaf tissues than the rushes sampled from the wetter floodplain area, with leaf tissues concentrations of Ni of approximately 75.5 (± 3.6) mg kg-1 Ni. Ni concentrations were also elevated in small mammal tissues. Transfer factors of contaminants indicated that U bioavailability is negligable in this wetland ecosystem.

SREL Reprint #2656

Punshon, T., K. F. Gaines, and R. A. Jenkins, Jr. 2003. Bioavailability and trophic transfer of sediment-bound Ni and U in a southeastern wetland system. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 44:30-35.

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