Ra-226 bioaccumulation and growth indices in fish
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PURPOSE: To determine the accumulated activity of Ra-226 in fathead minnows fed with environmentally relevant levels of Ra-226 for 5 months in water at 20 °C, and to evaluate the influence of this level of Ra-226 on the growth of fathead minnows. METHODS: Fathead minnows were fed with fish food containing 10-10,000 mBq/g Ra-226 for 5 months. At the end of the experiment, the fish were sacrificed, flash frozen in liquid nitrogen and kept at -20 °C. Longitudinal sections of 40 μm thickness were cut at the middle of the fish body using a cryostat. The activity of Ra-226 in each section was determined using autoradiography with a nuclear track detector CR-39. According to the weight and the width of the fish, the activity of Ra-226 in the whole fish body could be estimated. In addition, the length and the weight of the fish were measured and the condition factor was calculated to evaluate the growth and fitness of the fish. RESULTS: There is a positive but non-linear relationship between the accumulated activity of Ra-226 in fish body and the concentration of Ra-226 in fish food. The highest activity of Ra-226 accumulated in fish body was found from fish fed with 10,000 mBq/g Ra-226 food. This was calculated as 256.4 ± 49.1 mBq/g, p < 0.05, and the calculated dose rate was 6.2 ± 1.2 mGy/y. For fish fed with food containing lower concentration of Ra-226 (up to 1000 mBq/g), the bioaccumulation of Ra-226 in the body saturated. The Ra-226 concentration factor (CF) for fish was inversely proportional to the Ra-226 activity in food, and the highest CF value was 2.489, obtained from the lowest dietary Ra-226 activity (10 mBq/g). In addition, condition factors (K) of fish in all Ra-226-treated groups were significantly lower than those of the controls. CONCLUSION: The results show that the bioaccumulation of Ra-226 in fish is not simply related to the dietary Ra-226 activity, and has a saturation value when the dietary activity is low. In addition, the environmental level of Ra-226 in the fish food has a small adverse effect on the growth and fitness of fathead minnows.