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A new approach to predicting environmental transfer of radionuclides to wildlife: A demonstration for freshwater fish and caesium

Willey, N. J.; Beresford, N. A.; Yankovich, T. L.; Wood, M. D.; Fesenko, S.; Andersson, P.; Muikku, M.; Willey, Neil


N. J. Willey

N. A. Beresford

T. L. Yankovich

M. D. Wood

S. Fesenko

P. Andersson

M. Muikku

Neil Willey
Professor in Env Plant Physiology


The application of the concentration ratio (CR) to predict radionuclide activity concentrations in wildlife from those in soil or water has become the widely accepted approach for environmental assessments. Recently both the ICRP and IAEA have produced compilations of CR values for application in environmental assessment. However, the CR approach has many limitations, most notably, that the transfer of most radionuclides is largely determined by site-specific factors (e.g. water or soil chemistry). Furthermore, there are few, if any, CR values for many radionuclide-organism combinations. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach and, as an example, demonstrate and test this for caesium and freshwater fish. Using a Residual Maximum Likelihood (REML) mixed-model regression we analysed a dataset comprising 597 entries for 53 freshwater fish species from 67 sites. The REML analysis generated a mean value for each species on a common scale after REML adjustment taking account of the effect of the inter-site variation. Using an independent dataset, we subsequently test the hypothesis that the REML model outputs can be used to predict radionuclide, in this case radiocaesium, activity concentrations in unknown species from the results of a species which has been sampled at a specific site. The outputs of the REML analysis accurately predicted 137Cs activity concentrations in different species of fish from 27 Finnish lakes; these data had not been used in our initial analyses. We recommend that this alternative approach be further investigated for other radionuclides and ecosystems. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Willey, N. J., Beresford, N. A., Yankovich, T. L., Wood, M. D., Fesenko, S., Andersson, P., …Willey, N. (2013). A new approach to predicting environmental transfer of radionuclides to wildlife: A demonstration for freshwater fish and caesium. Science of the Total Environment, 463-464, 284-292.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2013
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Print ISSN 0048-9697
Electronic ISSN 1879-1026
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 463-464
Pages 284-292
Keywords concentration ratio, residual maximum likelihood model, caesium, freshwater fish
Public URL
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