Do fungi need to be included within environmental radiation protection assessment models?

Guillén, J.; Baeza, A.; Beresford, N.A.; Wood, M.D.. 2017 Do fungi need to be included within environmental radiation protection assessment models? Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 175-176. 70-77.

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Fungi are used as biomonitors of forest ecosystems, having comparatively high uptakes of anthropogenic and naturally occurring radionuclides. However, whilst they are known to accumulate radionuclides they are not typically considered in radiological assessment tools for environmental (non-human biota) assessment. In this paper the total dose rate to fungi is estimated using the ERICA Tool, assuming different fruiting body geometries, a single ellipsoid and more complex geometries considering the different components of the fruit body and their differing radionuclide contents based upon measurement data. Anthropogenic and naturally occurring radionuclide concentrations from the Mediterranean ecosystem (Spain) were used in this assessment. The total estimated weighted dose rate was in the range 0.31–3.4 μGy/h (5th–95th percentile), similar to natural exposure rates reported for other wild groups. The total estimated dose was dominated by internal exposure, especially from 226Ra and 210Po. Differences in dose rate between complex geometries and a simple ellipsoid model were negligible. Therefore, the simple ellipsoid model is recommended to assess dose rates to fungal fruiting bodies. Fungal mycelium was also modelled assuming a long filament. Using these geometries, assessments for fungal fruiting bodies and mycelium under different scenarios (post-accident, planned release and existing exposure) were conducted, each being based on available monitoring data. The estimated total dose rate in each case was below the ERICA screening benchmark dose, except for the example post-accident existing exposure scenario (the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone) for which a dose rate in excess of 35 μGy/h was estimated for the fruiting body. Estimated mycelium dose rate in this post-accident existing exposure scenario was close to the 400 μGy/h benchmark for plants, although fungi are generally considered to be less radiosensitive than plants. Further research on appropriate mycelium geometries and their radionuclide content is required. Based on the assessments presented in this paper, there is no need to recommend that fungi should be added to the existing assessment tools and frameworks; if required some tools allow a geometry representing fungi to be created and used within a dose assessment.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0265-931X
Additional Keywords: radioecology, fungi, dose rate, Mediterranean ecosystem, naturally occurring radionuclides, ERICA tool
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 10 May 2017 10:15 +0 (UTC)

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