To identify effects of chronic internal and external radiation exposure for components of terrestrial ecosystems, a comprehensive study of Scots pine trees in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was performed. The experimental plan included over 1,100 young trees (up to 20 y old) selected from areas with varying levels of radioactive contamination. These pine trees were planted after the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident mainly to prevent radionuclide resuspension and soil erosion. For each tree, the major morphological parameters and radioactive contamination values were identified. Cytological analyses were performed for selected trees representing all dose rate ranges. A specially developed dosimetric model capable of taking into account radiation from the incorporated radionuclides in the trees was developed for the apical meristem. The calculated dose rates for the trees in the study varied within three orders of magnitude, from close to background values in the control area (about 5 mGy y−1) to approximately 7 Gy y−1 in the Red Forest area located in the immediate vicinity of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant site. Dose rate/effect relationships for morphological changes and cytogenetic defects were identified, and correlations for radiation effects occurring on the morphological and cellular level were established.
* Ukrainian Institute of Agricultural Radiology of National University of Life and Environmental, Sciences of Ukraine (UIAR NUBiP of Ukraine); † National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine (NUBiP of Ukraine); ‡ Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC 29808.
For correspondence, contact: Eduardo B. Farfán, Environmental Dosimetry Group, Environmental Science and Biotechnology, Savannah River National Laboratory, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC, Bldg. 773-42A, Room 236, Aiken, SC 29808, or email at Eduardo.Farfan@srnl.doe.gov.
(Manuscript accepted 20 January 2011)