Los Alamos National Laboratory monitors both edible and non-edible plants and animals to determine whether Laboratory operations are impacting human health via the food chain, or to find chemicals that indicate they are being moved in the environment by such actions as animals burrowing in waste burial grounds, blowing dust, erosion by storm water, or movement through the food chain.
Los Alamos National Laboratory collects samples of various plants and animals, such as:
- Wild and domestic crops, including vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, and grains grown and/or harvested near Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Food products from animals (e.g., milk, honey, and eggs)
- Small and big game animals (e.g., rabbits, deer, and elk) on neighboring properties around Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Deer and elk that are killed by vehicles on roads around Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Bottom feeder fish and predator fish collected from the Rio Grande at locations upstream and downstream of Los Alamos National Laboratory canyons
Why we sample plants and animals
Plant and animal sampling is performed to:
- Determine radionuclide and chemical concentrations in edible and non-edible plants and animals from Los Alamos National Laboratory property and perimeter areas
- Determine concentration trends over time
- Estimate potential radiation dose and chemical exposure risk to residents, plants, and animals
Measurements are compared to background samples collected from areas away from Los Alamos National Laboratory influences and compared to averages over time to see if there are changes in concentrations.
The results of all sampling data and the interpretation of the data are available in the annual Environmental Report.