Radioactive fallout in soils, crops and food

Table of contents




A background review
prepared by
F.P.W. Winteringham
for the
FAO Standing Committee on Radiation Effects,
the FAO Land and Water Development Division
and the
Joint FAD/IAEA Division on Nuclear Techniques
in Food and Agriculture

Published by the
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
in cooperation with the
International Atomic Energy Agency

Rome, 1989

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city of area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

ISBN 92-5-102877-X

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

FAO 1989



1. Behaviour and significance of radioactive substances released into agricultural, forestry and fisheries ecosystems

1.1. Radiation in the environment

1.1.1 Natural levels
1.1.2 Manmade (anthropogenic) sources
1.1.3 Radioactive wastes and discharges
1.1.4 Comparative radiation exposures under normal conditions
1.1.5 Accident sites and accident potential

1.2 Radioecology, behaviour, significance, models

1.2.1 Significance
1.2.2 Radioecology
1.2.3 Models
1.2.4 Anticipatory- and countermeasures

1.3 Chernobyl and other accidents

1.3.1 Chernobyl
1.3.2 Other accidents
1.3.3 The international situation in Europe after "Chernobyl"

1.4. Some international implications

1.4.1 Joint FAD/IAEA programmes
1.4.2 Lessons for the future
1.4.3 Collection of information
1.4.4 Autonomous monitoring facilities
1.4.5 Laboratory activities
1.4.6 Training and education
1.4.7 Communication and cooperation
1.4.8 International insurance system

1.5 Summary

2. Soil and crop contamination by radioactive fallout

2.1. Agricultural and forestry soils as a vital global resource

2.1.1 Soil as a limited resource
2.1.2 Radioactive contaminants and Pollution

2.2. Soil in the nutrient cycle

2.2.1 Composition and variability of soils
2.2.2 Agricultural and forestry ecosystems
2.2.3 Cycling of plant nutrients and fertilization

2.3. Sources and nature of radioactive contamination

2.3.1 Naturally occurring radionuclides
2.3.2 Anthropogenic radionuclides
2.3.3 Trends since 1945
2.3.4 Post-'Chernobyl' fallout over soils

2.4 Biological significance of contaminated soils

2.4.1 General considerations
2.4.2 Radio-ecotoxicology
2.4.3 Occupational and public health implications

2.5. Behaviour in soils and movement into foodwebs

2.5.1 Effective 'disappearance' and redistribution
2.5.2 Uptake by crops
2.5.3 Scenario for movement into food
2.5.4 Movement in foodwebs
2.5.5 Leachin
2.5.6 Application of models to soil-food chain transfer

2.6. Detection and measurement

2.6.1 Importance of early notification
2.6.2 Sampling and monitoring

2.7. Countermeasures, reclamation and use of contaminated soils

2.7.1 General considerations
2.7.2 The time factor
2.7.3 Ploughing, irrigation, leaching, harvest
2.7.4 Fertilizer and other amendments
2.7.5 Choice of crops; safety checks
2.7.6 Possible problems from non-reactor accidents

2.8. Concluding comments; some questions and needs

3. Appendix notes on intervention and derived intervention levels in relation to food and agriculture

3.1 Intervention levels
3.2 Derived intervention levels for food moving internationally
3.3. Derived intervention levels as a function of time and food processing

4. Glossary of terms, definitions, units, abbreviations, acronyms

5. References