Radionuclides in marine macroalgae from Amchitka and Kiska Islands in the Aleutians: establishing a baseline for future biomonitoring

Joanna Burger, Michael Gochfeld, David S. Kosson, Charles W. Powers, Stephen Jewett, Barry Friedlander, Heloise Chenelot, Conrad D. Volz, Christian Jeitner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Levels of radionuclides in seven species of marine brown algae and Ulva were determined to establish a baseline for the Northern Pacific Ocean/Bering Sea (Aleutian Islands). There were differences in levels among algal species and locations (Amchitka Island vs Kiska Island). No values were above the minimum detectable activity (MDA) level for 137Cs, 129I, 60Co, 152Eu, 90Sr, and 99Tc. There were interspecific differences in some radionuclides: Ulva lactuca (=Ulva fenestrata) had the highest levels of 241Am, Alaria fistulosa had the highest levels of 239,240Pu, and Fucus distichus (=Fucus gardneri) had the highest levels of 234U, 235U, and 238U. However, levels of all radionuclides were generally low and near the MDA for all isotopes. Although Amchitka Island had higher levels of 239,240Pu than Kiska, the differences were very small and not significant biologically. The data indicate that algae can be useful bioindicators of actinides because they accumulate them at very low environmental levels, allowing them to provide early warning of any potential seepage of radionuclides into the marine environment. Further, the data indicate that some species (the intertidal Fucus) are better accumulators than others, and these should be used as bioindicators in future monitoring schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Actinides
  • Aleutians
  • Amchitka
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Biomonitoring
  • Consumption
  • Kelp
  • Kiska
  • Marine macroalgae
  • Radionuclides
  • Subsistence


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