[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An international study under the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) was performed to assess radiological impact of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) on the marine environment. This work constitutes the first international assessment of this type, drawing upon methodologies that incorporate the most up-to-date radioecological models and knowledge. To quantify the radiological impact on marine wildlife, a suite of state-of-the-art approaches to assess exposures to Fukushima derived radionuclides of marine biota, including predictive dynamic transfer modelling, was applied to a comprehensive dataset consisting of over 500 sediment, 6000 seawater and 5000 biota data points representative of the geographically relevant area during the first year after the accident. The dataset covers the period from May 2011 to August 2012. The method used to evaluate the ecological impact consists of comparing dose (rates) to which living species of interest are exposed during a defined period to critical effects values arising from the literature. The assessed doses follow a highly variable pattern and generally do not seem to indicate the potential for effects. A possible exception of a transient nature is the relatively contaminated area in the vicinity of the discharge point, where effects on sensitive endpoints in individual plants and animals might have occurred in the weeks directly following the accident. However, impacts on population integrity would have been unlikely due to the short duration and the limited space area of the initially high exposures. Our understanding of the biological impact of radiation on chronically exposed plants and animals continues to evolve, and still needs to be improved through future studies in the FDNPS marine environment.
Science of The Total Environment 04/2014; 487C:143-153. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Following releases from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS), contention has arisen over the potential radiological impact on wildlife. Under the auspices of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, a suite of recently developed approaches was applied to calculate exposure and thereafter infer effects on wildlife through comparison with compiled dose–response relationships. Only macroalgae (accumulated dose of 7 Gy) substantially exceeded its corresponding benchmark. We inferred that although effects on sensitive end points in individual plants and animals might have occurred in the weeks directly following the accident in relatively contaminated areas, impacts on population integrity would have been unlikely because of the short duration of the most highly elevated exposures. The conclusions of the assessment are incongruous with recent field observations of effects on some animal species, the cause of which has been reportedly exposures from FDNPS releases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To obtain a better understanding on how non-human biota are affected by exposure to environmental radioactivity, it is essential to link observed effects to a correct estimate of absorbed ionising radiation dose. Current wildlife dose rate and risk assessment tools are not set up to assess changes in dose rate during organism development. This paper presents a dosimetry model for assessing dose rate and absorbed dose during seedling development of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We included growth and radionuclide absorption dynamics into the dose calculations. This model was subsequently used to compare the dose and dose rate calculations for three radionuclides, (241)Am (α-radiation), (90)Sr (β-radiation) and (133)Ba (γ-radiation), in a standard exposure scenario. We show that growth influences dose and dose rate and that this influence depends on the radionuclide and the organ involved. The use of dynamic dosimetry models greatly improves the dose calculations for effect studies.
Journal of Theoretical Biology 01/2014; · 2.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An international study under the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) was performed to assess radiological impact of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) on the marine environment. This work constitutes the first international assessment of this type, drawing upon methodologies that incorporate the most up-to-date radioecological models and knowledge.
To quantify the radiological impact on marine wildlife, a suite of state-of-the-art approaches to assess exposures to Fukushima derived radionuclides of marine biota, including predictive dynamic transfer modelling, was applied to a comprehensive dataset consisting of over 500 sediment, 6000 seawater and 5000 biota data points representative of the geographically relevant area during the first year after the accident. The dataset covers the period from May 2011 to August 2012. The method used to evaluate the ecological impact consists of comparing dose (rates) to which living species of interest are exposed during a defined period to critical effects values arising from the literature.
The assessed doses follow a highly variable pattern and generally do not seem to indicate the potential for effects. A possible exception of a transient nature is the relatively contaminated area in the vicinity of the discharge point, where effects on sensitive endpoints in individual plants and animals might have occurred in the weeks directly following the accident. However, impacts on population integrity would have been unlikely due to the short duration and the limited space area of the initially high exposures. Our understanding of the biological impact of radiation on chronically exposed plants and animals continues to evolve, and still needs to be improved through future studies in the FDNPS marine environment.
Science of The Total Environment 01/2014; 487:143–153. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An environmental risk assessment (ERA) was performed to evaluate the impact on non-human biota from liquid and atmospheric radioactive discharges by the Belgian Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) of Doel and Tihange. For both sites, characterisation of the source term and wildlife population around the NPPs was provided, whereupon the selection of reference organisms and the general approach taken for the environmental risk assessment was established. A deterministic risk assessment for aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems was performed using the ERICA assessment tool and applying the ERICA screening value of 10 μGy h(-1). The study was performed for the radioactive discharge limits and for the actual releases (maxima and averages over the period 1999-2008 or 2000-2009). It is concluded that the current discharge limits for the Belgian NPPs considered do not result in significant risks to the aquatic and terrestrial environment and that the actual discharges, which are a fraction of the release limits, are unlikely to harm the environment.
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 08/2013; 126C:61-76. · 3.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The application of allometric, or mass-dependent, relationships within radioecology has increased with the evolution of models to predict the exposure of organisms other than man. Allometry presents a method of addressing the lack of empirical data on radionuclide transfer and metabolism for the many radionuclide-species combinations which may need to be considered. However, sufficient data across a range of species with different masses are required to establish allometric relationships and this is not always available. Here, an alternative allometric approach to predict the biological half-life of radionuclides in homoeothermic vertebrates which does not require such data is derived. Biological half-life values are predicted for four radionuclides and compared to available data for a range of species. All predictions were within a factor of five of the observed values when the model was parameterised appropriate to the feeding strategy of each species. This is an encouraging level of agreement given that the allometric models are intended to provide broad approximations rather than exact values. However, reasons why some radionuclides deviate from what would be anticipated from Kleiber's law need to be determined to allow a more complete exploitation of the potential of allometric extrapolation within radioecological models.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is a need for a better understanding of biological effects of radiation exposure in non-human biota. Correct description of these effects requires a more detailed model of dosimetry than that available in current risk assessment tools, particularly for plants. In this paper, we propose a simple model for dose calculations in roots and shoots of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings exposed to radionuclides in a hydroponic exposure setup. This model is used to compare absorbed doses for three radionuclides, (241)Am (α-radiation), (90)Sr (β-radiation) and (133)Ba (γ radiation). Using established dosimetric calculation methods, dose conversion coefficient values were determined for each organ separately based on uptake data from the different plant organs. These calculations were then compared to the DCC values obtained with the ERICA tool under equivalent geometry assumptions. When comparing with our new method, the ERICA tool appears to overestimate internal doses and underestimate external doses in the roots for all three radionuclides, though each to a different extent. These observations might help to refine dose-response relationships. The DCC values for (90)Sr in roots are shown to deviate the most. A dose-effect curve for (90)Sr β-radiation has been established on biomass and photosynthesis endpoints, but no significant dose-dependent effects are observed. This indicates the need for use of endpoints at the molecular and physiological scale.
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 04/2013; · 3.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This work describes the radiological assessment of the near-surface Maisiagala radioactive waste repository (Lithuania) over the period 2005-2012, with focus on water pathways and special emphasis on tritium. The study includes an assessment of the effect of post-closure upgrading, the durability of which is greater than 30 years. Both human and terrestrial non-human biota are considered, with local low-intensity forestry and small farms being the area of concern. The radiological exposure was evaluated using the RESRAD-OFFSITE, RESRAD-BIOTA and ERICA codes in combination with long-term data from a dedicated environmental monitoring programme. All measurements were performed at the Lithuanian Institute of Physics as part of this project. It is determined that, after repository upgrading, radiological exposure to humans are significantly lower than the human dose constraint of 0.2 mSv/year valid in the Republic of Lithuania. Likewise, for non-human biota, dose rates are below the ERICA/PROTECT screening levels. The potential annual effective inhalation dose that could be incurred by the highest-exposed human individual (which is due to tritiated water vapour airborne release over the most exposed area) does not exceed 0.1 μSv. Tritium-labelled drinking water appears to be the main pathway for human impact, representing about 83 % of the exposure. Annual committed effective dose (CED) values for members of the public consuming birch sap as medical practice are calculated to be several orders of magnitude below the CEDs for the same location associated with drinking of well water. The data presented here indicate that upper soil-layer samples may not provide a good indication of potential exposure to terrestrial deep-rooted trees, as demonstrated by an investigation of stratified (3)H in soil moisture, expressed on a wet soil mass basis, in an area with subsurface contamination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An inter-comparison of five models designed to predict the effect of ionizing radiation on populations of non-human wildlife, performed under the IAEA EMRAS II programme, is presented and discussed. A benchmark scenario 'Population response to chronic irradiation' was developed in which stable generic populations of mice, hare/rabbit, wolf/wild dog and deer were modelled as subjected to chronic low-LET radiation with dose rates of 0-5 × 10(-2) Gy day(-1) in increments of 10(-2) Gy day(-1). The duration of exposure simulations was 5 years. Results are given for the size of each surviving population for each of the applied dose rates at the end of the 1st to 5th years of exposure. Despite the theoretical differences in the modelling approaches, the inter-comparison allowed the identification of a series of common findings. At dose rates of about 10(-2) Gy day(-1) for 5 years, the survival of populations of short-lived species was better than that of long-lived species: significant reduction in large mammals was predicted whilst small mammals survive at 80-100 % of the control. Dose rates in excess of 2 × 10(-2) Gy day(-1) for 5 years produced considerable reduction in all populations. From this study, a potential relationship between higher reproduction rates and lower radiation effects at population level can be hypothesized. The work signals the direction for future investigations to validate and improve the predictive ability of different population dose effects models.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Estimates of absorbed dose rates to wildlife from exposure to natural background radionuclides are required to put estimates of dose rates arising from regulated releases of radioactivity and proposed benchmarks into context. Recent review papers have estimated dose rates to wildlife from (40)K, and (238)U and (232)Th series radionuclides. However, only one study previous has considered the potential dose rates to burrowing animals from inhaled (222)Rn and its daughter products. In this paper we describe a study conducted at seven sites in northwest England. Passive track etch detectors were used to measure the (222)Rn concentrations in artificial burrows over a period of approximately one year. Results suggest that absorbed dose rates to burrowing mammals as a consequence of exposure to (222)Rn are likely to be at least an order of magnitude higher than those suggested in previous evaluations of natural background exposure rates which had omitted this radionuclide and exposure pathway. Dose rates in some areas of Great Britain will be considerably in excess of incremental no-effects benchmark dose rates suggested for use as screening levels. Such advised benchmark dose rates need to be better put into context with background dose rates, including exposure to (222)Rn, to ensure credibility; although the context will be determined by the purpose of the benchmark and the assessment level.
Science of The Total Environment 06/2012; 431:252-61. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Radiological doses to terrestrial wildlife were examined in this model inter-comparison study that emphasised factors causing variability in dose estimation. The study participants used varying modelling approaches and information sources to estimate dose rates and tissue concentrations for a range of biota types exposed to soil contamination at a shallow radionuclide waste burial site in Australia. Results indicated that the dominant factor causing variation in dose rate estimates (up to three orders of magnitude on mean total dose rates) was the soil-to-organism transfer of radionuclides that included variation in transfer parameter values as well as transfer calculation methods. Additional variation was associated with other modelling factors including: how participants conceptualised and modelled the exposure configurations (two orders of magnitude); which progeny to include with the parent radionuclide (typically less than one order of magnitude); and dose calculation parameters, including radiation weighting factors and dose conversion coefficients (typically less than one order of magnitude). Probabilistic approaches to model parameterisation were used to encompass and describe variable model parameters and outcomes. The study confirms the need for continued evaluation of the underlying mechanisms governing soil-to-organism transfer of radionuclides to improve estimation of dose rates to terrestrial wildlife. The exposure pathways and configurations available in most current codes are limited when considering instances where organisms access subsurface contamination through rooting, burrowing, or using different localised waste areas as part of their habitual routines.
Science of The Total Environment 05/2012; 427-428:238-46. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A practical approach to calculate (222)Rn daughter dose rates to terrestrial wildlife is presented. The method scales allometrically the relevant parameters for respiration in different species of wildlife, allowing inter-species calculation of the dose per unit radon concentration in air as simple base-and-exponent power functions of the mass. For plants, passive gas exchange through the leaf surface is assumed, also leading to specific power relationships with mass. The model generates conservative predictions in which the main contributor to the dose rate of target tissues of the respiratory system is from α radiation arising from (222)Rn daughters. Tabulated (222)Rn DPURn values are given for 69 species used by the England & Wales Environment Agency for habitats assessments. The approach is then applied to assess the authorised discharges of (222)Rn from sites in England, demonstrating that, from a whole-body dose perspective, the biota considered are protected from effects at the population level.
Science of The Total Environment 05/2012; 427-428:50-9. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the present paper, a two-age-class group, logistic growth model for generic populations of non-human biota is described in order to assess non-stochastic effects of low linear energy-transfer radiation using three endpoints: repairable radiation damage, impairment of reproductive ability and, at higher radiation dose rates, mortality. This model represents mathematically the exchange between two life stages considering fecundity, growth and mortality. Radiation effects are modeled with a built-in self-recovery pool whereupon individuals can repair themselves. In acute effects mode, the repairing pool becomes depleted due to radiation and the model tends to lethality mode. A base calibration of the model's two free parameters is possible assuming that in acute mode 50% of the individuals die on 30 days when a radiation dose equal to the LD(50/30) is applied during that period. The model, which requires 10 species-dependent life-history parameters, was applied to fish and mammals. Its use in the derivation of dose-rate screening values for the protection of non-human biota from the effects of ionizing radiation is demonstrated through several applications. First, results of model testing with radiation effects data for fish populations from the EPIC project show the predictive capability of the model in a practical case. Secondly, the model was further verified with FREDERICA radiation effects data for mice and voles. Then, consolidated predictions for mouse, rabbit, dog and deer were generated for use in a population model comparison made within the IAEA EMRAS II project. Taken together, model predictions suggest that radiation effects are more harmful for larger organisms that generate lower numbers of offspring. For small mammal and fish populations, dose rates that are below 0.02 Gy day(-1) are not fatal; in contrast, for large mammals, chronic exposure at this level is predicted to be harmful. At low exposure rates similar to the ERICA screening dose rate of 2.4 × 10(-4) Gy day(-1), long-term effects on the survivability of populations are negligible, supporting the appropriateness of this value for radiological assessments to wildlife.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A model for the derivation of dose rates per unit radon concentration in plants was developed in line with the activities of a Task Group of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), aimed at developing more realistic dosimetry for non-human biota. The model considers interception of the unattached and attached fractions of the airborne radon daughters by plant stomata, diffusion of radon gas through stomata, permeation through the plant's epidermis and translocation of deposited activity to plant interior. The endpoint of the model is the derivation of dose conversion coefficients relative to radon gas concentration at ground level. The model predicts that the main contributor to dose is deposition of (214)Po α-activity on the plant surface and that diffusion of radon daughters through the stomata is of relatively minor importance; hence, daily variations have a small effect on total dose.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, precipitated by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the northeastern coast of Japan in March 2011, has raised concerns about the potential impact to marine biota posed by the release of radioactive water and radionuclide particles into the environment. The Fukushima accident is the only major nuclear accident that has resulted in the direct discharge of radioactive materials into a coastal environment. This article briefly summarizes what is currently understood about the effects of radioactive wastewaters and radionuclides to marine life.
Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 07/2011; 7(3):365-7.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An exercise to compare 10 approaches for the calculation of unweighted whole-body absorbed dose rates was conducted for 74 radionuclides and five of the ICRP's Reference Animals and Plants, or RAPs (duck, frog, flatfish egg, rat and elongated earthworm), selected for this exercise to cover a range of body sizes, dimensions and exposure scenarios. Results were analysed using a non-parametric method requiring no specific hypotheses about the statistical distribution of data. The obtained unweighted absorbed dose rates for internal exposure compare well between the different approaches, with 70% of the results falling within a range of variation of ±20%. The variation is greater for external exposure, although 90% of the estimates are within an order of magnitude of one another. There are some discernible patterns where specific models over- or under-predicted. These are explained based on the methodological differences including number of daughter products included in the calculation of dose rate for a parent nuclide; source-target geometry; databases for discrete energy and yield of radionuclides; rounding errors in integration algorithms; and intrinsic differences in calculation methods. For certain radionuclides, these factors combine to generate systematic variations between approaches. Overall, the technique chosen to interpret the data enabled methodological differences in dosimetry calculations to be quantified and compared, allowing the identification of common issues between different approaches and providing greater assurance on the fundamental dose conversion coefficient approaches used in available models for assessing radiological effects to biota.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mussels from the Portuguese coast collected during several seasons of the year have shown (210)Po and (210)Pb body burdens (Bq mussel(-1)) that increased with mussels' body size but displayed significant decrease in radionuclide concentrations (Bq kg(-1)). For example, the increase of mussel size from 2.5 cm to 5.0 cm maximum shell length corresponded in average to a 50% decrease of (210)Po activity concentration in soft tissues from 1065 Bq kg(-1) (dw) to 540 Bq kg(-1) (dw). A similar reduction in concentration was observed for (210)Pb. The physiological condition of mussels, relating to fat and glycogen storage, had an effect on radionuclide concentrations, although the total body burden of radionuclide in mussels remained nearly constant throughout the year. These factors may play an important role in data interpretation for environmental monitoring programmes. Besides the mussel size and condition index, due to the inter-individual variation even inside narrow mussel size classes, the sample size, i.e., the number of specimens in one mussel sample is another key factor to be considered when obtaining environmentally representative radionuclide concentrations.