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HTO and OBT Concentrations in a Wetland Ecosystem

S. B. Kim, W. J. G. Workman, P. A. Davis, T. Yankovich

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 54 / Number 1 / July 2008 / Pages 248-252


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Tritiated water (HTO) and organically bound tritium (OBT) concentrations in the non-human biota inhabiting Duke Swamp were measured during the 2005 growing season. Samples of surface water, soil, plants, precipitation, wild animals and air moisture were collected from 2005 May to October at five locations in the swamp and analyzed for their tritium content. HTO concentrations in air moisture decreased with height since the tritium source is in the ground. Soil HTO concentrations were not closely related to the concentrations in nearby surface water and the HTO concentration in balsam fir needles showed no clear pattern with height. HTO concentrations in moss, grass and alder leaves decreased in September, which is the time when metabolic activity is reduced. OBT concentrations in a given compartment showed less variation than the HTO concentrations in that compartment. The OBT/HTO ratio was approximately one for soil and less than one for plants, with the exception of lichen. The OBT/HTO ratio in most wild animals was also less than one, but increased to more than 2.0 for mice. Although the tritium concentrations varied substantially in space and time in Duke Swamp, the fact that OBT/HTO <1 for most compartments suggests that equilibrium conditions hold locally.

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