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Chapter 8

Radiation Protection of the Environment: A Summary of Current Approaches for Assessment of Radionuclides in Terrestrial Ecosystems

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. In this chapter, 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 International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The current approaches used for wildlife have some commonalities with those used for humans, but with 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 the environmental media such as soil, water or air. Protection is focused on populations rather than individuals, and therefore some approaches used for the assessment of chemicals pollutants are also being adopted for radionuclides.

Print publication date: 01 Sep 2011
Copyright year: 2011
Print ISBN: 978-1-84973-194-2
PDF eISBN: 978-1-84973-288-8