Friday, 14 July 2017

Fungi assess radioactivity in soil



The Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory of the UEx has carried out a study to quantify radioactive presence in fungi. According to the research, this quantification is made using transfer coefficients that compare the radioactive content in the receptor compartment (fungi) of the radioactive contamination, to that existing in the transmitter compartment (soil). From the study, we may conclude that fungi can be used when assessing the presence or absence of radioactive contamination in the soil.

The Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory of the University of Extremadura (LARUEX) has carried out a study to quantify radioactive presence in this foodstuff. Thus, the author of the study, Javier Guillén, explains that "this quantification is made using transfer coefficients that compare the radioactive content in the receptor compartment of the radioactive contamination, that is to say in the fungi, to that existing in the transmitter compartment, which in this case would be the soil."To conduct this research the authors considered the base level of radionuclides established in ecosystems with low radioactive content like our region, and then used the software called the ERICA Tool which, as the researcher explains, "allows one to enter the transfer coefficient from the soil to the organism -- in this case the fungus -- thus calculating the dose of radionuclides a non-human organism receives."

From the study, we may conclude that the estimated dose rates for fungi in Spain are similar to those determined for other animals (animals and plants) and therefore this species can be used when assessing the presence or absence of radioactive contamination in the soil, as a result of which, as the researcher asserts, "even though it is not strictly necessary to include fungi amongst the existing instruments and frameworks of assessment, they can be used in ecosystems which may require them, based on criteria such as biodiversity."

Moreover, in the case of the fungi analysed, which are concentrated in the Mediterranean area, we should also highlight the fact that they do not contain a high dose of radionuclides, meaning there is no environmental contamination and they are therefore perfectly suitable for consumption by humans.

See:

J. Guillén, A. Baeza, N.A. Beresford, M.D. Wood. Do fungi need to be included within environmental radiation protection assessment models? Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 2017; 175-176: 70 DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2017.04.014

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle