Radioactive contamination in the Arctic—sources, dose assessment and potential risks
KeywordsEcology and Environment
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AbstractArctic residents, whose diets comprise a large proportion of traditional terrestrial and freshwater foodstuffs, have received the highest radiation exposures to artificial radionuclides in the Arctic. Doses to members of both the average population and selected indigenous population groups in the Arctic depend on the rates of consumption of locally-derived terrestrial and freshwater foodstuffs, including reindeer/caribou meat, freshwater fish, goat cheese, berries, mushrooms and lamb. The vulnerability of arctic populations, especially indigenous peoples, to radiocaesium deposition is much greater than for temperate populations due to the importance of terrestrial, semi-natural exposure pathways where there is high radiocaesium transfer and a long ecological half life for this radionuclide. In contrast, arctic residents with diets largely comprising marine foodstuffs have received comparatively low radiation exposures because of the lower levels of contamination of marine organisms.Using arctic-specific information, the predicted collective dose is five times higher than that estimated by UNSCEAR for temperate areas. The greatest threats to human health and the environment posed by human and industrial activities in the Arctic are associated with the potential for accidents in the civilian and military nuclear sectors. Of most concern are the consequences of potential accidents in nuclear power plant reactors, during the handling and storage of nuclear weapons, in the decommissioning of nuclear submarines and in the disposal of spent nuclear fuel from vessels. It is important to foster a close association between risk assessment and practical programmes for the purposes of improving monitoring, formulating response strategies and implementing action plans.
TypePublication - Article
Strand, P.; Howard, B.J.; Aarkrog, A.; Balonov, M.; Tsaturov, Y.; Bewers, J.M.; Salo, A.; Sickel, M.; Bergman, R.; Rissanen, K.. 2002 Radioactive contamination in the Arctic—sources, dose assessment and potential risks. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 60 (1-2). 5-21. 10.1016/S0265-931X(01)00093-5 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0265-931X(01)00093-5>