Potential radiological impact of the phosphate industry on wildlife

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The examples of sites potentially impacted by the phosphate industry reported in this study show that environmental concentrations and associated dose rates to wildlife require a more profound investigation to unequivocally demonstrate that wildlife is at risk or not in situations of enhanced natural radioactivity. This is certainly the case for the aquatic ecosystems in the vicinity of the Tessenderlo, Huelva and Brazil phosphate-fertiliser plants and the terrestrial ecosystem in the vicinity of the phosphate mine of Palmyra, Syria. A higher level Tier ERA is recommended for these cases. This may include an ERA based on more realistic assumptions and more in-depth site monitoring for environmental concentrations or radionuclide concentrations in biota. Further along the process is the need for effects studies on species concerned in laboratory or field conditions. For all the scenarios evaluated 226Ra and 210Po were the most dose contributing radionuclides and total dose rate was driven by internal dose. The study also highlighted the importance of having information on background levels of natural radionuclides in the area, necessary given the fact that dose rates should be compared to the background dose rate to determine if the incremental dose is likely of concern.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
JournalJournal of environmental radioactivity
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Environmental radiological impact assessment, wildlife, natural radioactivity, phosphate industry

ID: 207898