The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is investing in the development of software to model radionuclide transport in terrestrial foodchains following accidental or planned releases of radioactivity to the atmosphere.
The PRISM code uses a 'wrapped' version of the AMBER compartmental modelling software with a custom Graphical User Interface (GUI) that provides direct access to a parameter database. The currently available version of the code (PRISM 1.3) provides a powerful capability for undertaking deterministic and probabilistic foodchain calculations, including the representation of correlated model parameters. It uses up-to-date models for radionuclide metabolism by animals, but the models for the Soil and Plant parts of the terrestrial foodchain were developed several years ago. The use of PRISM's probabilistic capabilities enables uncertainties in the calculation of potential contaminant concentration in crops and animal products to be evaluated.
The FSA has recently placed a contract with Quintessa to complete the transition of PRISM from a prototype to a fully functioning assessment tool. PRISM 2.0 will be developed over the next year, and will include new up-to-date models for the Soil and Plant parts of the terrestrial foodchain and will enable assessments to be undertaken for heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium as well as radionuclides.