Title: Living in radioactive environments: a non-human perspective

Authors: Carmel E. Mothersill; Colin Seymour

Addresses: Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario, L8S 4K1, Canada ' Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario, L8S 4K1, Canada

Abstract: Radiation protection of non-humans has recently been integrated into the ICRP (International Commission on Radiation Protection) framework using a reference animal and plant approach matching the anthropocentric 'reference human' approach. While this is simple to implement it has many drawbacks and is essentially focusing on measurements of uptake and transfer of radionuclides in individuals. This ignores the complexity and interdependence of natural ecosystems. It also ignores the biology involved in management of radiation damage in wild populations. To address these concerns international efforts are being made to develop a more ecocentric or holistic approach. Especially important is the recognition that ecosystems are very complex and that adverse emergent properties of these systems such as biodiversity collapse are not predictable from measurement of impacts on individuals. The paper discusses the limitations of current ICRP approaches and considers some promising new ideas, which may lead to more integrated protection systems involving the ecosystem as a central focus rather than the individual.

Keywords: radioecology; radiobiology; ecosystem approach; holistic; system biology.

DOI: 10.1504/IJLR.2020.113535

International Journal of Low Radiation, 2020 Vol.11 No.3/4, pp.178 - 185

Received: 27 Apr 2020
Accepted: 26 May 2020

Published online: 10 Mar 2021 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article