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Radiation Impact on Biota


Radiation Impact of the Russian Nuclear Facilities on the Environment and Man. Amendment of the Scientific Basis for Radiation Protection of Non-Human Species

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • BIO-RAD/Radiobiology/Biotechnology
  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Bunyatov K S

Leading Institute
Institute of Agriculture Radiology and Agroecology, Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk

Supporting institutes

  • A.I. Burnazyan Federal Medical and Biophysical Center, Russia, Moscow\nVNIIKhT (Chemical Technology), Russia, Moscow


  • International Atomic Energy Agency / Agency's Laboratories Seibersdorf, Austria, Vienna\nCEA / Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire, France, Saint-Paul-lez-Durance\nForschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit GmbH (GSF) / Institut für Strahlenschutz, Germany, Neuherberg

Project summary

One of the main tasks defining the prospects of nuclear power usage is an evaluation of the impact of nuclear fuel cycle enterprises on the environment and human health. Principles of regulation of the effects on man and preventing negative influence of ionising radiation on human health have been developed and improved for more than 80 years; these are based on practical experience of using sources of ionising radiation and are presented in detail in documents and publications of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The fundamentals of radiation protection of the environment have not been so well developed and a need for their development should be developed and justified. When estimating effects of ionising radiation on man and biota, it should be taken into attention that man is only one of the components of the Environment. Therefore, unjustifiable is to pide artificially radiation protection of biota, on the one hand and man on the other hand and radiation safety of man and non-human species in their environment needs to be achieved as an integral whole. In recent years these problems have received a considerable attention from both a set of national radiation authorities (USA, Canada, UK) and international organisations (ICRP, IAEA, UNSCEAR and IUR). However, at the moment, no adequate results have been obtained which allow the conclusion in which radioecological situations radiation standards for biota should be applied and on what basis. This indicates a need for a more accurate analysis of radiation impact on the Environment and the identification of the situations when a violation of the anthropocentric principle “if man is protected then the environment is also adequately protected” is possible.

The implementation of the present project is aimed at improving a scientific basis for the estimation of radiation effects of nuclear fuel cycle enterprises on man and the environment. The project’s outcomes will be based on the analysis of ecological consequences of the operation of typical Russian nuclear power enterprises, Production Association “Almaz” where in 1950-1990 uranium ores were mined and reprocessed, Novovoronezh NPP (in operation since 1964), Krasnoyarsk chemical plant for reprocessing of nuclear fuel (in operation since 1958), as well as assessment of influence of the elevated levels of natural radiation background (Komi Republic).

The project includes the solution of the following interconnected tasks:

1. Development of methodological grounds for a comparative assessment of radiation impacts on man and biota, including creation of a database on effects of biological objects exposure and estimation of permissible levels of irradiation of reference biota species.

2. Estimation of parameters of migration and accumulation of radionuclides in the environment in regions of location of the study enterprises of nuclear complex of Russia, including improvement, choice and justification of models for radionuclide transfer and dose assessment to man and the environment.

3. Improvement of methods for ecological dosimetry and expanding of capabilities of their application in different radioecological situations.

4. Analysis of the environmental impact of Russian nuclear power engineering and industry enterprises (LPA “Almaz”, Novovoronezh NPP, Krasnoyarsk processing plant) and assessment of radiation effects on the population and components of ecosystems on the territory with elevated natural radiation background (Komi Republic).

5. Estimation of exposure doses and analysis of the population health in areas influenced by the nuclear enterprises (“Almaz”, NV NPP, KPP) and areas of the elevated radiation background (region of Vodny settlement, Komi Republic).

6. Classification of radiological situations connected with the arrival of radionuclides in the environment, including a comparative analysis of radiation effects on man and biota and justification of situations when it is expedient to use regulations of radiation effects on the environment.

As a result, a methodology will be developed for a comparative assessment of radiation impact on man and the environment, importance of radiation effects in different situations on man (including dose estimations to the population over the time of enterprises’ operation and analysis of their possible influence on human health) and the environment will be evaluated. The scientific fundamentals will be improved for the estimation of permissible levels of exposure of natural organisms, including: improvement of the concept of biological effects of low doses of ionising radiation, justification of principles for selecting reference biota species in ecological situations typical for regions where nuclear power enterprises of Russia are located; estimation of permissible levels of radiation exposure of typical (reference) natural organisms. A classification of radiological situations connected with the arrival to the environment of radionuclides or presence in it of elevated levels of radiation background based on a comparative analysis of radiation effects on man and biota will be proposed.

The estimation of the importance of radiation effects on man and the environment of typical enterprises of nuclear industry (for the Russian Federation conditions) will permit to decide on the need for introduction of special technologies ensuring optimisation of the composition and size of releases to the environment and for formulation of approaches to the developing of sound criteria for rehabilitation of areas contaminated by previous activity of enterprises. These results are of great importance in making political, economic and social decisions connected with a choice of ways for a development of different branches of power engineering using a concept of “sustainable development” and perception of nuclear power engineering and industry by the public.

Among the organizations-participants of the project are internationally recognized scientific centres that have been carrying out research on ensuring radiation safety over the whole period of nuclear industry development in Russia. The project participants conducted comprehensive radioecological and radiobiological works in areas of heavy radiation accidents (chemical plant “Mayak”, ChNPP, Tomsk-7) as well as studies on the estimation of radiation-related objects effects on the environment and humans of radiation related facilities.

In the preceding period, RIARAE, RSRICT, Institute of Biophysics and SPA “Typhoon” were directly oriented towards defensive themes: RIARAE – estimation of consequences of a global nuclear war on natural ecosystems and agriculture, as well as provision of its functioning is such conditions; RSRICT – development of technologies for managing nuclear raw materials and reprocessing of nuclear fuel; Institute of Biophysics – insurance of radiation safety for the public and personnel in all types of activity on nuclear materials management under normal and accidental conditions and possible application of nuclear weapons; SPA “Typhoon” – radiation monitoring and estimation of effects of nuclear weapons testing on the environment.

The work under the project will give Russian scientists engaged in the development of nuclear weapons opportunities for reorientation of their knowledge and expertise to prevention of negative impacts of ionizing radiation on man and the environment. It will promote their integration into the world scientific community, it will support applied research in the field of environmental protection, contribute to the solution of national and international problems related to the operation of nuclear enterprises.

The studies will be carried out in 4 regions characterized by increased levels of radioactive contamination: in the vicinity of enterprises of full nuclear fuel cycle of the Atomic Energy Agency of Russia (LPA “Almaz” – an enterprise for uranium mining in the North Caucasus; Novovoronezh NPP; Krasnoyarsk chemical combine – a plant for nuclear fuel reprocessing), and in areas with increased natural radiation background (Komi republic). These areas vary considerably in natural-climatic conditions, composition and density of radioactive contamination dominated in some cases by gamma- (Novovoronezh NPP) and in other by beta- or alpha- emitting radionuclides (North Caucasus, Komi). The choice of different types of enterprises of nuclear power engineering and industry makes it possible to compare various types of radiological situations and to consider the inherent peculiarities in dose formation to man and biota and biological effects. Doses to the population and human health will be estimated in different situations and possible radiation impacts will be identified. The available information on bioeffects in biota will be analyzed with taking into account their ontogenesis, dosimetric models will be developed and necessary experimental studies conducted.

The present project supplements and expands aims and objectives of other projects in the field of environmental protection from ionizing radiation that are already underway and are financed by the European Community (FASSET and EPIC). Further development of these studies is envisaged within the 6th framework scientific and technical program of the European Community (ERICA project). The results from the present project may be used for successful implementation of the existing projects and results from the projects that are already being financed will contribute to success of the proposed project. In particular, in the analysis of the radioecological status of the Yenisei, results from the SPA “Typhoon” studies under ISTC project №1404/99 will be employed. Exchange of information, joint discussion of technical reports, technical and financial support of project participants in business trips to international symposia, organization of joint conferences, workshops, etc. are also being planned.


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