Human Health Issues Arising from the Disposal of Chemotoxic Substances in Radioactive Waste

A recent paper published in the Journal of Radiological Protection provides an illustrative assessment of human health issues arising from the potential release of chemotoxic and radioactive substances from a generic geological disposal facility for radioactive waste. The paper summarises the results of a study by Quintessa working with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (NDA RWMD).

The assessment uses a source-pathway-receptor methodology and estimates exposures for a number of human exposure pathways, which are consistent with authoritative toxicological assessment criteria. Also, the possibility of additive and synergistic effects resulting from exposures to mixtures of chemical contaminants or a combination of radiotoxic and chemotoxic substances is considered. The case study highlights potential difficulties associated with a lack of data being available with which to assess synergistic effects, and how such difficulties can be addressed.

Reference: Wilson, J.C., Thorne, M., Towler, G and Norris, S. (2011) Assessment of the human health implications of chemotoxic species release from radioactive waste geological disposal facilities, Journal of Radiological Protection 31, 411-430.