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    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).



     The wildlife of Chernobyl: 30 years without man

    In the 30 years since the disaster at Chernobyl, wildlife in the highly radioactive 'Exclusion Zone' has thrived.

    Mike Wood and Nick Beresford report from a nature reserve like no other.

    The Biologist 63, 2, p16-19



    TREE students working with reindeer in Norway

    Phakphum Aramrum, a TREE PhD student, recently produced this video for the COGER meeting at the University of Glasgow.

    His presentation was entitled 'Measuring Norwegian reindeer radiation exposure under field conditions'. It described the experimental site and the management of the Vågå reindeer herd, aspects of dosimetry technologies and his research plans. For more information see the following:

    Abstract, Poster and Presentation



    Research in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

    Dr Sergey Gashchak



    Soil lysimeters (Nick Beresford)

    Biogeochemical processes and radionuclide behaviour in soil-plant systems

    • Improve understanding of the biogeochemical behaviour of 129I, 79Se, 99Tc, & U isotopes in soils.

    • 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).

    More information


    Radiation Transfer in Chernobyl

    Novel approaches to estimate the radionuclide activity concentrations in the human foodchain & terrestrial and aquatic wildlife


    • To evaluate uncertainties in wildlife exposure estimation by assessing how animals utilise contaminated environments.

    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.

    More information


    Short 'movie' of trap camera potographs from November 2014 - March 2015

    Exposure of wildlife under field conditions


    • To evaluate uncertainties in wildlife exposure estimation by assessing how animals utilise contaminated environments.

    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.

    More information

    Plant Physiology in Chernobyl

    Mechanisms of biological effect and trans-generational impacts of exposure to ionising radiation


    • Determine whether low level chronic exposure to radiation has significant effects on exposed populations in contaminated sites.

    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.

    More information

    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

    Capacity building

    TREE will establish and train a cohort of PDRAs and PhDs to help renew UK capacity in environmental radioactivity.

    Our students will be trained in a wide range of essential skills including controlled laboratory studies and working in contaminated environments. They will benefit from being a member of a multidisciplinary team and opportunities to take placements with our beneficiaries and extensive range of project partners.

    More information


    Principal Investigator: Brenda Howard NERC-CEH


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