Radiation protection of the environment: A summary of current approaches for assessment of radionuclides in terrestrial ecosystems

Howard, B.J.; Beresford, N.A.. 2011 Radiation protection of the environment: A summary of current approaches for assessment of radionuclides in terrestrial ecosystems. In: Hester, R.E.; Harrison, R.M., (eds.) Nuclear power and the environment. RSC Publishing, 177-198. (Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, 32).

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Over the past decade the international community has recognised the need to demonstrate that wildlife populations are protected from environmental releases of radioactivity as well as humans. Frameworks and models for such assessments have been developed and are continuously being tested and improved. The basic elements of an assessment for radiation exposure of wildlife are outlined including the current methods used to estimate environmental radionuclide transfer and the resulting doses. The methods used to derive benchmarks based on radiation effects data, against which estimated doses can be compared, are described. Since it is impossible to quantify transfer and doses for all species, the approaches use representative groups such as ‘reference organisms’ including the Reference Animals and Plants of the ICRP. The current approaches used for wildlife have some commonalities with that used for the humans, but also some notable differences. Organisms tend to be considered as homogenous simplified geometric shapes with the whole organism absorbed dose rate being estimated; the majority of available effects data are expressed on the basis of whole organism dose rates. Transfer is often quantified by predicting the whole organism activity concentration from that in environmental media such as soil, water or air. Protection is focused on populations rather than individuals and therefore some approaches used for assessment of chemicals pollutants are being adopted for radionuclides.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 2 - Biogeochemistry and Climate System Processes > BGC - 2.1 - Quantify & model processes that control the emission, fate and bioavailability of pollutants
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISBN: 9781849732888
Additional Keywords: radioecology
Date made live: 26 Sep 2011 12:19 +0 (UTC)

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