Iodine-129 in mule deer thyroids in the Rocky Mountain West

Health Phys. 1983 Jul;45(1):31-7. doi: 10.1097/00004032-198307000-00004.


Thyroids from mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) were collected in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho and 129I/127I atom ratios were determined. Iodine-129/127 atom ratios were significantly (P less than 0.005) different among states. Ratios in Wyoming and Idaho control thyroids were significantly (P less than 0.05) larger than ratios in New Mexico and Colorado. Fallout from past atmospheric nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site is suggested as a possible explanation for the differences in ratios. Average 129I/127I ratios in thyroids of other large mammals collected 54 km west and 116 km northeast of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) in south eastern Idaho were up to 15 times those found in control thyroid samples from Idaho. Atmospheric effluents from the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant located on the INEL were likely responsible for the increased ratios in animals collected in the INEL vicinity. Although of no health consequence to the animals, 129I in deer thyroids may be a sensitive indicator of contaminants from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants and atmospheric nuclear tests or accidents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colorado
  • Deer*
  • Food Contamination, Radioactive / analysis
  • Idaho
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / analysis*
  • New Mexico
  • Radioactive Pollutants / analysis*
  • Thyroid Gland / analysis*
  • Wyoming


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Radioactive Pollutants