Journal Article Dose rate estimation of the Tohoku hynobiid salamander, Hynobius lichenatus, in Fukushima

Fuma, Shoichi  ,  Ihara, Sadao  ,  Kawaguchi, Isao  ,  Ishikawa, Takahiro  ,  Watanabe, Yoshito  ,  Kubota, Yoshihisa  ,  Sato, Youji  ,  Takahashi, Hiroyuki  ,  Aono, Tatsuo  ,  Ishii, Nobuyoshi  ,  Soeda, Haruhi  ,  Matsui, Kumi  ,  Une, Yumi  ,  Minamiya, Yukio  ,  Yoshida, Satoshi

Description
The radiological risks to the Tohoku hynobiid salamanders (class Amphibia), Hynobius lichenatus due to the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident were assessed in Fukushima Prefecture, including evacuation areas. Aquatic egg clutches (n = 1 for each sampling date and site; n = 4 in total), overwintering larvae (n = 1 - 5 for each sampling date and site; n = 17 in total), and terrestrial juveniles or adults (n = 1 or 3 for each sampling date and site; n = 12 in total) of H. lichenatus were collected from the end of April 2011 to April 2013. Environmental media such as litter (n = 1 - 5 for each sampling date and site; n = 30 in total), soil (n = 1 - 8 for each sampling date and site; n = 31 in total), water (n = 1 for each sampling date and site; n = 17 in total), and sediment (n = 1 for each sampling date and site; n = 17 in total) were also collected. Activity concentrations of 134Cs + 137Cs were 1.9 - 2800, 0.13 - 320, and 0.51 - 220 kBq (dry kg) -1 in the litter, soil, and sediment samples, respectively, and were 0.31 - 220 and <0.29-40 kBq (wet kg)-1 in the adult and larval salamanders, respectively. External and internal absorbed dose rates to H. lichenatus were calculated from these activity concentration data, using the ERICA Assessment Tool methodology. External dose rates were also measured in situ with glass dosimeters. There was agreement within a factor of 2 between the calculated and measured external dose rates. In the most severely contaminated habitat of this salamander, a northern part of Abukuma Mountains, the highest total dose rates were estimated to be 50 and 15 μGy h-1 for the adults and overwintering larvae, respectively. Growth and survival of H. lichenatus was not affected at a dose rate of up to 490 μGy h-1 in the previous laboratory chronic gamma-irradiation experiment, and thus growth and survival of this salamander would not be affected, even in the most severely contaminated habitat in Fukushima Prefecture. However, further studies of the adult salamanders may be required in order to examine whether the most severe radioactive contamination has any effects on sensitive endpoints, since the estimated highest dose rate to the adults exceeded some of the guidance dose rates proposed by various organisations and programmes for the protection of amphibians, which range from 4 to 400 μGy h-1. Conversely, at one site in Nakadori, a moderately contaminated region in Fukushima Prefecture, the dose rate to the adult salamanders in spring of 2012 was estimated to be 0.2 μGy h-1. Estimated dose rates to the overwintering larvae in spring of 2012 were 1 and 0.2 μGy h-1 at one site in Nakadori, and in Aizu, a less contaminated region in Fukushima Prefecture, respectively. These results suggest that there is a low risk that H. lichenatus will be affected by radioactive contamination in these districts, though further studies on dose rate estimation are required for definitive risk characterisation.

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