Impact of medical radionuclide discharges on people and the environment

Jordi Vives i Batlle, Lieve Sweeck, Fabricio Fiengo Perez

Research outputpeer-review


We present a novel methodology to dynamically calculate dose rates to people and wildlife from hospital-released radionuclides reaching the environment through water treatment plants (WTPs), using the biokinetic model D-DAT for aquatic wildlife, applied to 18F, 123I, 131I, 153Sm, 99mTc and 201Tl. We have also developed a method to calculate doses to WTP workers and to farmers from agricultural practices. This proof-of-concept study simulates a generic source term of radionuclide levels in the Belgian Molse Nete River during the year 2018, chosen because the river flow was very low during that year, which constitutes a very conservative, bounding case. The dose rates to wildlife calculated for this hypothetical scenario under conservative assumptions, are well below the ERICA predicted no effects dose rate to wildlife of 10 μGy h−1. Human exposures are also very low, in most cases not exceeding 10 μSv y−1. This work identifies important data gaps and areas of uncertainty in the assessment of radiopharmaceutical effluents. The study, which is part of the EC project SINFONIA, paves the way for a dynamic screening assessment methodology able to perform consistently assessments of the impact of radiopharmaceuticals on people and wildlife. This is particularly relevant since discharges of radiopharmaceuticals in rivers are on the increase and it is necessary to explicitly demonstrate that people and the environment are adequately protected.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107362
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of environmental radioactivity
StatePublished - Feb 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry

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