Soil-to-plant transfer factors for radiocesium and radiostrontium in agricultural systems

Health Phys. 2000 Mar;78(3):279-88. doi: 10.1097/00004032-200003000-00005.


A database of soil-to-plant transfer factors for radiocesium and radiostrontium has been compiled for arable crops from published and unpublished sources. The database is more extensive than previous compilations of data published by the International Union of Radioecologists, containing new information for Scandinavia and Greece in particular. It also contains ancillary data on important soil characteristics. The database is sub-divided into 28 soil-crop combinations, covering four soil types and seven crop groups. Statistical analyses showed that transfer factors for radiocesium could not generally be predicted as a function of climatic region, type of experiment, age of contamination, or soil characteristics. However, significant relationships accounting for more than 30% of the variability in transfer factor were identified between transfer factors for radiostrontium and soil pH/organic matter status for a few soil-crop combinations. Best estimate transfer factors for radiocesium and radiostrontium were calculated for 28 soil-crop combinations, based on their geometric means: only the edible parts were considered. To predict the likely value of future individual transfer factors, 95% confidence intervals were also derived. A comparison of best estimate transfer factors derived in this study with recommended values published by the International Union of Radioecologists in 1989 and 1992 was made for comparable soil-crop groupings. Whilst there were no significant differences between the best estimate values derived in this study and the 1992 data, radiological assessments that still use 1989 data may be unnecessarily cautious.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Cesium Radioisotopes / analysis
  • Cesium Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Climate
  • Databases, Factual
  • Food Contamination, Radioactive* / analysis
  • Health Physics
  • Models, Biological
  • Plants, Edible / metabolism*
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive / pharmacokinetics*
  • Strontium Radioisotopes / analysis
  • Strontium Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics*


  • Cesium Radioisotopes
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Strontium Radioisotopes