TRansfer - Exposure – Effects (TREE)
Integrating the science needed to underpin radioactivity assessments
for humans and wildlife
TREE is one of three consortia funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Environment Agency (EA) and Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM) under the Radioactivity And The Environment (RATE) programme.
The overall objective of the TREE project is to reduce uncertainty in estimating the risk to humans and wildlife associated with exposure to radioactivity and to reduce unnecessary conservatism in risk calculations. This will be achieved through four interlinked science components beginning with improving our understanding of the biogeochemical behaviour of radionuclides in soils through to studying the transgenerational effects of ionising radiation exposure on wildlife. Our studies will combine controlled laboratory experiments with fieldwork; most of which will take place in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ).
Soil lysimeters (Nick Beresford)
Biogeochemical processes and radionuclide behaviour in soil-plant systems
• Critically assess the validity of models parameterised from short-term laboratory experiments.
The first component of the study will be to assess how the availability of radionuclides varies in soils over time. We will be investigating if short-term measurements can be used to predict the long-term availability of radionuclides in soils by testing our models in the Chernobyl exclusion zone (CEZ).
Radiation Transfer in Chernobyl
Novel approaches to estimate the radionuclide activity concentrations in the human foodchain & terrestrial and aquatic wildlife
The second component applies the concepts of ‘phylogeny’ and ‘ionomics’ and statistical modelling methods to describe uptake of a range of radionuclide into wildlife and human foods. The approach may make it possible to predict uptake for any plant or animal; this would be of great value as it is impossible to measure uptake for all wildlife, crops and farm animals.
Short 'movie' of trap camera potographs from November 2014 - March 2015
Exposure of wildlife under field conditions
The third component seeks to improve the quantification of radiation exposure by investigating how animals within the CEZ interact with their environment and the consequences of this for their exposure to radiation.
Plant Physiology in Chernobyl
Mechanisms of biological effect and trans-generational impacts of exposure to ionising radiation
The final component aims to investigate if knowledge from experiments on animals and plants in the laboratory is a good representation of what happens in the real world. A key element of this work will be the consideration of transgenerational effects.
In addition to our scientific research we will make a contribution to the one of the aims of the RATE programme which is to improve UK capacity in the field of radioactivity in the environment.
Fieldwork with students in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Principal Investigator: Brenda Howard NERC-CEH