An approach for the assessment of risk from chronic radiation to populations of phytoplankton and zooplankton
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A conceptual model of the effects of chronic radiation on a population of phytoplankton and zooplankton in an oceanic nutrient layer is presented. The model shows that there are distinct threshold dose rates at which the different plankton populations become unsustainable. These are 10,400 µGy h−1 for phytoplankton and 125 µGy h−1 for zooplankton. Both these values are considerably greater than the current screening values for protection of 10 µGy h−1. The model highlights the effects of predator–prey dynamics in predicting that when the zooplankton is affected by the radiation dose, the phytoplankton population can increase. In addition, the model was altered to replicate the dose rates to the plankton of a previous ERICA Irish Sea assessment (24 µGy h−1 for zooplankton and 430 µGy h−1 to phytoplankton). The results showed only a 10% decrease in the zooplankton population and a 15% increase in the phytoplankton population. Therefore, at this level of dose, the model predicts that although the dose rate exceeds the guideline value, populations are not significantly affected. This result highlights the limitations of a single screening value for different groups of organisms.
KeywordsPhytoplankton Dose Rate Radiation Model Phytoplankton Population Light Shading
The authors wish to acknowledge the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA, UK) for financial support (Project Ref. CJ000090). The authors would also like to thank Drs Tatiana Sazykina and Alexander Kryshev from the Scientific Association Typhoon (Obninsk, Russia) for assistance in radiation modelling parameterization.
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