The transfer of 137Cs, Pu isotopes and 90Sr to bird, bat and ground-dwelling small mammal species within the Chernobyl exclusion zone

Beresford, NA, Gaschak, S, Maksimenko, A and Wood, M ORCID: 2016, 'The transfer of 137Cs, Pu isotopes and 90Sr to bird, bat and ground-dwelling small mammal species within the Chernobyl exclusion zone' , Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 153 , pp. 231-236.

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Protected species are the focus of many radiological environmental assessments. However, the lack of radioecological data for many protected species presents a significant international challenge. Furthermore, there are legislative restrictions on destructive sampling of protected species to obtain such data. Where data are not available, extrapolations are often made from ‘similar’ species but there has been little attempt to validate this approach.

In this paper we present what, to our knowledge, is the first study purposefully designed to test the hypothesis that radioecological data for unprotected species can be used to estimate conservative radioecolgical parameters for protected species; conservatism being necessary to ensure that there is no significant impact.

The study was conducted in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Consequently, we are able to present data for Pu isotopes in terrestrial wildlife. There has been limited research on Pu transfer to terrestrial wildlife which contrasts with the need to assess radiation exposure of wildlife to Pu isotopes around many nuclear facilities internationally.

Our results provide overall support for the hypothesis that data for unprotected species can be used to adequately assess the impacts for ionising radiation on protected species. This is demonstrated for a range of mammalian and avian species. However, we identify one case, the shrew, for which data from other ground-dwelling small mammals would not lead to an appropriately conservative assessment of radiation impact. This indicates the need to further test our hypothesis across a range of species and ecosystems, and/or ensure adequate conservatism within assessments.

The data presented are of value to those trying to more accurately estimate the radiation dose to wildlife in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, helping to reduce the considerable uncertainty in studies reporting dose-effect relationships for wildlife.

A video abstract for this paper is available here.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0265-931X
Related URLs:
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2016 15:25
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 20:11

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