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Operation Roller Coaster. Project Officers Report - Project 4.1. Plutonium Uptake by Animals Exposed to a Non-Nuclear Detonation of a Plutonium-Bearing Weapon Simulant

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Final rept.

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Dogs, burros, and sheep were allowed to breathe from the cloud generated by the high-explosive detonation of a plutonium-bearing nuclear weapon simulant. No nuclear yield was present in the explosion. Animals were sacrificed serially from H 1 hour to D 2 12 years to quantitate initial tissue burdens, to establish lung clearance kinetics, and to determine extent of translocation to other organs. Ten dogs and ten sheep were exposed in a similar trial in which more explosive was used and the weapon simulants were housed in a typical earth-covered high-explosive storage magazine, to establish in a limited way if the admixed earth in any way effected the clearance kinetics. Half of those animals were sacrificed on D 3, the remainder on D 7. Initial lung concentrations were shown to be quite closely comparable among the three species if exposed to the same cloud integral of respirable aerosol, and it is proposed that these species in particular and probably other large animals can serve as monitors of exposure if sacrificed soon after an accident. The presence of large amounts of inert dust in the storage magazine trial resulted in a three- fold reduction in lung burden as compared to the dirt-free trial. This may be conservative, but the scarcity of data and the short duration of this phase of the studies preclude any more precise estimate of the benefit of earth-covered storage. It is believed that the altered clearance kinetics are those of the inert dust for which the plutonium serves as a tracer.

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  • Radiobiology

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