Fall-out Radioactivity in a Deer's Antlers


THE accumulation of radioactive material in biological structures as a result of fall-out from nuclear explosions presents a continuing and increasing problem in relation to human food supplies. It is now well established1,2 that radiostrontium-levels in the bones of children are higher than in adults, and this is clearly related to the rate of deposition of ‘new’ calcium in the skeleton. The rapidity with which the antlers of deer are formed, coupled with the fact that these animals normally graze on upland pastures which are known to contain relatively high levels of fall-out radioactivity1, suggested that antlers might well show particularly heavy contamination with radiostrontium. An opportunity was therefore taken during the course of a survey of radiostrontium-levels in foodstuffs to include for assay a pair of antlers from a deer shot on the island of Islay on November 3, 1957.

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  1. 1

    Bryant, F. J., Chamberlain, A. C., Morgan, A., and Spicer, G. S., J. Nuclear Energy, 6, 22 (1957).

  2. 2

    Eckelmann, W. R., Kulp, J. L., and Schulert, A. R., Science, 127, 266 (1958).

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HAWTHORN, J., DUCKWORTH, R. Fall-out Radioactivity in a Deer's Antlers. Nature 182, 1294 (1958) doi:10.1038/1821294a0

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