Dr Brenda Howard

Dr Brenda Howard, MBE


Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Lancaster Environment Centre
Library Avenue
T: +44 (0)1524 595855
F: +44 (0)1524 61536
E-mail: Dr Brenda Howard


Research interests and experience

I have a PhD in physiological heavy metal detoxification mechanisms.

I work on environmental radioactivity and have published more than 140 refereed papers on radionuclide transfer to animals in agricultural and semi-natural ecosystems, radiation protection of organisms other than humans, remediation after nuclear accidents and analysis and application of radioecological data.  I have edited eight special journal issues and made contributions to many International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA) documents.

I was awarded an MBE for my radioecological work in 2002. I am a member of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) and sub-committees on Authorisations and Contaminations. I have co-ordinated eight EU framework projects, and currently lead CEH participation in the Strategy for Allied Radioecology (STAR) network and the COMET project. I am the Principal Investigator of TREE (integrating the science needed to underpin radioactivity assessments for humans and wildlife), a UK-based project within the NERC RATE programme.


Radiation protection of the environment

Much work has been done over the past decade to develop a system of radiation protection for organisms. I co-edited a special issue which described the development and application of one of the two freely available models now used to make such assessments, the ERICA Tool.

Subsequently, the PROTECT project (Protection of the environment from ionising radiation in a regulatory context) provided a scientific justification to propose numerical targets or standards for protection of the environment from ionising radiation.

I recently led a NERC Knowledge Exchange project that provided training on the application of the ERICA Tool. Whilst chairing Working Group 5 of the IAEA EMRAS II programme (Environmental Modelling for Radiation Safety), we produced a Handbook (due tobe published soon) compiling Concentration Ratio (CRwo-media) values to quantify the transfer of radionuclides from environmental media to wildlife. I have edited a special issue on the development and application of the handbook which includes my recent paper considering how we can identify those data gaps which matter and deserve attention during assessments.


Radionuclide transfer in the foodchain

Radioactivity in animal products is a potentially important source of ingested dose to humans. I have studied the transfer of radionuclides to agricultural and wild animals for 34 years. I lead a team which provided an updated list of transfer parameter values for animal products in the human foodchain in the International Atomic Energy Agency Technical report Series TRS 472.

Within the IAEA MODARIA (Modelling and Data for Radiological Impact Assessments) programme I am chairing WG 4 addressing Analysis of radioecological data in IAEA TRS publications to identify key radionuclides and associated parameter values for human and wildlife exposure assessment. Many of the WG4 activities are focused on developing a database of Kd (distribution coefficient) values in soils and sediments.


Remediation after nuclear accidents

I have worked for many years on the various methods to mitigate the impact of nuclear accidents, particularly at Chernobyl, focusing on the impact in the UK, Western Europe and in inhabited areas near the nuclear power plant.

The knowledge on remediation gained after Chernobyl and other accidents was synthesized in the IAEA handbook (TRS 475) on ‘Guidelines for Remediation strategies to reduce the radiological consequences of environmental contamination’ for which Sergey Fesenko and I were the technical editors.

More recently, I drafted the remediation text in the report of the International Experts´ Meeting on Decommissioning and Remediation after a Nuclear Accident and was a member of an IAEA mission evaluating the progress of remediation in Japan (Jan 14). Over the last year, I have chaired a sub-group preparing text on remediation as part of Chapter 5 (Post-accident recovery) of the impending Fukushima Report of the IAEA.



Selected publications

See the NERC Open Research Archive (NORA)

Pálsson, S.E., Howard, B.J. et al., 2013. A simple model to estimate deposition based on a statistical reassessment of global fallout data Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 121. 75-86. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.03.006

Howard, B.J., Beresford, N.A. et al. 2013.The IAEA handbook on radionuclide transfer to wildlife Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 121. 55-74. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.01.027

Wood, M.D., Beresford, N.A., Howard, B.J. and Copplestone, D. 2013. Evaluating summarised radionuclide concentration ratio datasets for wildlife. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 314-325.10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.07.022

Howard, B.J., Wells, C., Beresford, N.A. and Copplestone, D. 2013. Exploring methods to prioritise concentration ratios when estimating weighted absorbed dose rates to terrestrial Reference Animals and Plants.Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 326-337.10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.05.005

Psaltaki, M., Brown, J.E. and Howard, B.J. 2013.TRS Cs CRwo-water values for the marine environment: analysis, applications and comparisons.Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 367-375. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.07.001

Keum, Dong-Kwon, Jun, In, Lim, Kwang-Muk, Choi, Yong-Ho and Howard, B J. 2013. Time-dependent transfer of 137Cs, 85Sr and 65Zn to earthworms in highly contaminated soils. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 427-433. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.07.017

Recent international UN output

IAEA 2013. IAEA Report on Decommissioning and Remediation After a Nuclear Accident, September 2013, IEM4, Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency. Remediation section.

IAEA 2013. Follow-up IAEA international mission on remediation of large contaminated areas off-site Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (14-21 October 2013), Preliminary Summary Report, Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency, 11pp, 21 October 2013. Member of IAEA Team.

IAEA 2014. The follow-up IAEA international mission on remediation of large contaminated areas off-site the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, 14–21 October 2013. Final report. Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency, 57pp. Member of IAEA Team.

IAEA (in press) Handbook of parameter values for the prediction of radionuclide transfer to wildlife. Technical Reports Series, International Atomic Energy Agency.  Chairperson.

Journal Special Issues (Editor / Co-editor)

Hinton, T., Brechignac, F., Howard, B., Liland, A., Walker, S. and Yankovich, T. 2014. Environmental radioactivity: legacy sites, Chernobyl and Fukushima, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 131, 1-3.  10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.12.002

Howard, B.J. 2013. A new IAEA handbook quantifying the transfer of radionuclides to wildlife for assessment tools. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 284-287. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.11.002

Copplestone, D., Beresford, N.A. and Howard, B.J. 2010. Protection of the environment from ionising radiation: developing criteria and evaluating approaches for use in regulation. Journal of Radiobiological Protection, 30, 191-194.  10.1088/0952-4746/30/2/E03

Howard, B.J. and Larsson, C-M. 2008. The ERICA Project, Environmental risk from ionising contaminants: assessment and management. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 99, 1361-1518. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.04.013

Beresford, N.A., Howard, B.J. and Voigt, G. 2007. Transfer of radionuclides to food producing animals. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 98, 1-3. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2007.07.001

Nisbet, A., Howard, B.J., Beresford, N.A. and Voigt, G. 2005. Workshop to extend the involvement of stakeholders in decisions on restoration management. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 83, 259-261. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2005.01.012

Howard, B.J. and Desmet, G.M. 1993. Relative effectiveness of agricultural countermeasure techniques - REACT - proceedings of a workshop organized by the Commission-of-the-European-communities.Science of the Total Environment137, R11-R12. 10.1016/0048-9697(93)90372-D