Should we ignore U-235 series contribution to dose?

Beaugelin-Seiller, Karine; Goulet, Richard; Mihok, Steve; Beresford, Nicholas A.. 2016 Should we ignore U-235 series contribution to dose? Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 151 (1). 114-125.

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Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) methodology for radioactive substances is an important regulatory tool for assessing the safety of licensed nuclear facilities for wildlife, and the environment as a whole. ERAs are therefore expected to be both fit for purpose and conservative. When uranium isotopes are assessed, there are many radioactive decay products which could be considered. However, risk assessors usually assume 235U and its daughters contribute negligibly to radiological dose. The validity of this assumption has not been tested: what might the 235U family contribution be and how does the estimate depend on the assumptions applied? In this paper we address this question by considering aquatic wildlife in Canadian lakes exposed to historic uranium mining practices. A full theoretical approach was used, in parallel to a more realistic assessment based on measurements of several elements of the U decay chains. The 235U family contribution varied between about 4% and 75% of the total dose rate depending on the assumptions of the equilibrium state of the decay chains. Hence, ignoring the 235U series will not result in conservative dose assessments for wildlife. These arguments provide a strong case for more in situ measurements of the important members of the 235U chain and for its consideration in dose assessments.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0265-931X
Additional Keywords: radioecology, uranium, decay chain, dose assessment, wildlife
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 20 Oct 2015 14:11 +0 (UTC)

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