Environmental impact of radiotracer studies: biota dose assessment

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The intentional release of short lived radioisotopes to trace transport and partitioning processes in the environment has been in decline in recent decades due to negative regulatory and public perceptions of the associated risks. Radiotracing is subject to significant regulatory requirements; in some jurisdictions one of these requirements is to demonstrate that radiation exposure to ecosystems is limited to ensure protection of populations of species. Radiation exposures from radiotracer studies are localised, transient and infrequent by nature, making it difficult to apply guidelines and biota dose assessment tools that are designed for chronic and widespread exposure scenarios. We will discuss the limitations of available guidelines and dose assessment methodologies when applied to radiotracer studies. A range of case studies for biota dose assessment will be presented using a variety of available tools including the ERICA Assessment Tool, the methodology of Copplestone et al. (2001) and a dynamic dose assessment model (Vives I Batlle et al., 2008). These case studies demonstrate that steady state, spatial homogeneity and bioavailability assumptions inherent in available dose assessment tools may lead to an over-estimate of dose to biota from radiotracer studies, and that many radiotracer studies can be conducted with minimal dose to biota.
Environmental impacts, Tracer techniques, Radiation effects, Radiation doses, Environment
Hughes, C. E., Johansen, M. P., Wilson, R. C., Copplestone, D., & Batlle, J. V. I. (2014). Environmental impact of radiotracer studies: biota dose assessment. Paper presented at the Seventh International Conference on Tracers and Tracking Methods, "Tracer technologies to the benefit of better future", October 13-15, 2014, Marrakech.