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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Statistical Considerations and Survey of Plutonium Concentration Variability in Some Terrestrial Ecosystem Components1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 8 No. 2, p. 176-182
    Received: Mar 3, 1978

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  1. Gary C. White and
  2. Thomas E. Hakonson2



Statistical aspects of the use of the coefficient of variation (c) in the design of environmental plutonium studies are considered. Small sample properties of the estimate of c are studied for both normal and log-normal populations with Monte Carlo simulations. A minimum sample size of 50 is necessary to estimate c with much precision, and an estimate of c from a sample size of less than 5 is nearly worthless. The difficulty of achieving good estimates of c increases as the true value of c increases.

In addition, some of the available data on the variability of plutonium concentrations in terrestrial ecosystem components is summarized. The data were pooled to achieve better estimates of the coefficient of variation than might be available from individual studies. Pooled estimates of c are: soils, 1.35; vegetation, 0.70; and rodent tissues, 1.10. The estimates of c presented should be useful in designing a field sampling program for plutonium.

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