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The present work encompasses some key aspects of a 3-year long research project (INTRANOR) where the main focus has been specifically on environmental assessments for radiation exposure through application of existing methodologies and their adaptation to quantify transfer, exposure and effects in Boreal/Arctic ecosystems. Non-parametric statistical methods have been applied in order to estimate the threshold dose rates above which radiation effects can be expected in vertebrate organisms. In addition, industrial areas contaminated by uranium mill tailings and radium production wastes, in the Komi Republic, Russia, were selected as suitable sites to study further the effects of exposure to radiation under boreal conditions. Dose–effect relationships have been established for a few natural populations inhabiting this area. Analyses of data have allowed benchmarks to be established below which no decrease in reproductive capacity could be observed. Other work performed within the project includes the collation of data in relation to naturally occurring radionuclides and application of existing methodologies to characterise background radiation exposures. These dose-rates may be a suitable means of contextualising the exposure attributable to enhanced dose-rates arising from human activities. Finally, combined action of ionizing radiation and low temperature has been analyzed and mathematically modelled.
There is general international acceptance of the need to demonstrate that the environment is protected from ionising radiation. In some countries requirements and guidelines for the protection of non-human biota are already in place. As a consequence a number of models and approaches have been proposed for the estimation of the exposure of non-human biota to ionising radiation. The IAEA EMRAS programme's Biota Working Group has conducted the most comprehensive intercomparison of the predictions of these approaches to date. In this paper, we present an overview of the activities of the Biota Working Group concentrating on its conclusions and recommendations.
In the radiobiological studies of aquatic organisms, fish eggs are a favorite subject for experimental work because of easy availability of embryos and the possibility of observing the development of embryos within eggs. Data from Russian/FSU publications concerning the effects of ionizing radiation on the survival and development of fish eggs were compiled within the framework of the EC Project EPIC “Environmental Protection from Ionizing Contaminants in the Arctic" (2000-2003). Comparative analysis was performed for effects on roe of two representative fish species: cold-water fish salmon (Salmo salar), and pike (Esox lucius), which is widespread predatory fish from the temperate climatic zone.
The key issue in the assessment system for radiation protection of wildlife is the establishment of dose-effects relationships for reference representatives of natural biota. Within the frame of the EC Project EPIC “Environmental Protection from Ionizing Contaminants" (2000-2003), a database has been created, which includes about 1600 records from 440 publications in Russian on the dose-effects relationships in wildlife from northern-temperate climatic zones. The EPIC database “Radiation effects on biota" is based on Russian/FSU experimental and field studies; chronic/lifetime exposures are the focus of the data collection. The database information covers a very wide range of radiation dose rates to biota: from below 1E(-5) Gy d-1 up to more than 1 Gy d-1. A great variety of radiation effects are registered in the EPIC database, from stimulation at low doses up to death from acute radiation syndrome at high doses. The paper presents the dose-effects relationships for northern wildlife in the conditions of low-LET chronic irradiation. The system of dose-effects relationships forms the scale of severity of radiation effects at increasing levels of chronic radiation exposure. The system can be used as a basis for establishing criteria for radiation protection of the Northern wildlife.
In this paper we use the FASSET framework to estimate absorbed dose rates for biota within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The estimated doses are compared to observed biological effects within the Chernobyl exclusion zone and effects expected from summaries of existing knowledge and the extent of contamination. Although paucity of observations under conditions of chronic irradiation makes direct comparison difficult, the biological effects observed in the Chernobyl exclusion zone over the period considered here (1988-2003) are broadly in agreement with those which may have been expected.
A number of frameworks have been proposed to assess the protection of wildlife from ionising radiations. In this paper we compare the predictions of transfer parameters recommended by one of these frameworks (FASSET) with observed whole-body 90Sr and 137Cs activity concentrations in a range of mammal and invertebrate species sampled within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Predicted activity concentrations are generally within the observed ranges and mean predictions for reference organisms are similar to, or circa one order of magnitude higher than, the observed means. However, some predictions are more than one order of magnitude lower than observed values. No data were available for animals to test predictions for the other radionuclides released by the Chernobyl accident. In a separate paper the outputs of this assessment will be used to estimate doses to reference organisms and compare these to observed radiation induced effects reported within the Chernobyl zone.
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