Nick Beresford

Measuring transfer of radionuclides to cow's milk within Chernobyl exclusion zone

Prof Nick Beresford


Environmental Contaminants Group Leader

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Lancaster Environment Centre
Library Avenue
T: +44 (0)1524 595800
F: +44 (0)1524 61536
E-mail: Dr Nick Beresford

I have over 20 years' experience as a radioecologist and have published 145 papers in the refereed literature. With Dr Jim Smith (University of Portsmouth), I published Chernobyl Catastrophe and Consequences in 2005. I am an Associated Editor of the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity and an Honorary Professor in the School of Environment and Life Sciences at the University of Salford.


Main Research Areas

Assessing the exposure of wildlife to ionising radiation

Whilst there is a well developed system of radiological protection for humans, it is only in the last 15 years that a similar system for wildlife has begun to evolve. Such a system is required to address emerging legislation, which, in some countries is driven from a conservation perspective.

I led the development of the databases used to determine the transfer of radionuclides used within the ERICA Tool (a freely available model developed within an EC EURATOM project). Subsequently, I have developed alternative transfer models, conducted field studies, lead international evaluation exercises and the development of underlying databases.

With colleagues I have also developed and delivered training on radiological environmental protection to regulators, industry representatives and scientists from the UK and worldwide.

Radionuclide and heavy metal transfer to farm animals

Contaminated animal derived food products are often a major contributor of ingested radionuclides to humans both from accidental and routine releases of radionuclides into the environment. The ability to understand and predict the transfer of radionuclides to animal products is therefore important in assessing, and controlling, the exposure of human populations.

With colleagues from CEH and a variety of UK and European institutions I have studied the transfer of a wide range of radionuclides to farm animals under controlled and field conditions. Studies have included the development of approaches to determine radionuclide absorption, the transfer of radionuclides to the milk of cattle grazing close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, application of dietary marker techniques in radioecology, and the transfer of radiocaesium to sheep on upland UK farms affected by the Chernobyl accident.

Development and testing of remediation measures

Following a large-scale accidental release of radioactivity into the environment, food production systems may be contaminated for many years.

In the years following the Chernobyl accident I conducted studies to develop and test methods of reducing radiocaesium transfer to upland sheep in the UK. I also evaluated the potential of methods to reduce the transfer of radioiodine and radiostrontium to milk.

Subsequently I was involved in the assessment of how such measures may be applied within restoration strategies.

I currently supervise a NERC funded PhD studentship, with University of Nottingham, who is assessing the potential to exploit grass varietal variation as a remediation measure for Cs and Sr.

International activities

I currently chair the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) working group on the development and testing of models assessing the exposure of wildlife to ionising radiation.

I was a key contributor to the chapter on farm animal transfer in the IAEA Handbook of Parameter Values for the Prediction of Radionuclide Transfer in Terrestrial and Freshwater Environment (Technical Reports Series No. 472) published in 2010. I also contributed to the Guidelines for Remediation Strategies to Reduce the Radiological Consequences of Environmental Contamination (IAEA Technical Reports Series No. 475).

I was a member of an ICRP Task Group which has prepared a report on the transfer of radionuclides to the ICRP's Reference Animals and Plants. I was also one of the editors of an IAEA handbook on radionuclide transfer parameters for wildlife which will be published as an IAEA Technical Report Series document.

I am a participant in the EURATOM funded STAR (Strategy for Applied Radioecology) network of excellence and COMET project which aim to enhance and maintain European capacity, competence and skills in radioecology.  


Selected Recent Publications

Also see the NERC Open Research Archive.

Avila, R., Beresford, N., Brown, J., Hosseini, A. 2014. The selection of parameter values in studies of environmental radiological impacts. J. Radiol. Prot. 34, 261-262.

Barnett, C.L.; Beresford, N.A.; Walker, L.A.; Baxter, M.; Wells, C.; Copplestone, D.. 2014 Transfer parameters for ICRP reference animals and plants collected from a forest ecosystem. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 53, 125-149. 10.1007/s00411-013-0493-6

Beresford, N.A.; Vives i Batlle, J.. 2013 Estimating the biological half-life for radionuclides in homoeothermic vertebrates: a simplified allometric approach. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 52 (4). 505-511. 10.1007/s00411-013-0481-x

Beresford, N.A.; Yankovich, T.L.; Wood, M.D.; Fesenko, S.; Andersson, P.; Muikku, M.; Willey, N.J.. 2013 A new approach to predicting environmental transfer of radionuclides to wildlife: a demonstration for freshwater fish and caesium. Science of the Total Environment, 463-464. 284-292. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.06.013

Brown, J.E.; Beresford, N.A.; Hosseini, A.. 2013 Approaches to providing missing transfer parameter values in the ERICA Tool: how well do they work? Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 399-411. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.05.005

Copplestone, D.; Beresford, N.A.; Brown, J.E.; Yankovich, T.. 2013 An international database of radionuclide concentration ratios for wildlife: development and uses. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 288-298. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.05.007

Hinton, T.G.; Garnier-Laplace, J.; Vandenhove, H.; Dowdall, M.; Adam-Guillermin, C.; Alonzo, F.; Barnett, C.; Beaugelin-Seiller, K.; Beresford, N.A.; Bradshaw, C.; Brown, J.; Eyrolle, F.; Fevrier, L.; Gariel, J.C.; Gilbin, R.; Hertel-Aas, T.; Horemans, N.; Howard, B.J.; Ikaheimonen, T.; Mora , J.C.; Oughton, D.; Real, A.; Salbu, B.; Simon-Cornu, M.; Steiner, M.; Sweeck, L.; Vives i Batlle, J.. 2013 Una invitacion para contribuir a la agenda estrategica de investigacion en radioecologia. Radioproteccion, 20 (74). 48-61.

Hosseini, A.; Stenberg, K.; Avila, R.; Beresford, N.A.; Brown, J.E.. 2013 Application of the Bayesian approach for derivation of PDFs for concentration ratio values. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 376-387. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.04.007

Howard, B.J.; Beresford, N.A.; Copplestone, D.; Telleria, D.; Proehl, G.; Fesenko, S.; Jeffree, R.A.; Yankovich, T.L.; Brown, J.E.; Higley, K.; Johansen, M.P.; Mulye, H.; Vandenhove, H.; Gashchak, S.; Wood, M.D.; Takata, H.; Andersson, P.; Dale, P.; Ryan, J.; Bollhöfer, A.; Doering, C.; Barnett, C.L.; Wells, C.. 2013 The IAEA handbook on radionuclide transfer to wildlife Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 121. 55-74. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.01.027

Howard, B.J.; Wells, C.; Beresford, N.A.; 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

Wood, M.D.; Beresford, N.A.; Howard, B.J.; 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

Yankovich, T.; Beresford, N.A.; Fesenko, S.; Fesenko, J.; Phaneuf, M.; Dagher, E.; Outola, I.; Andersson, P.; Thiessen, K.; Ryan, J.; Wood, M.D.; Bollhöfer, A.; Barnett, C.L.; Copplestone, D.. 2013 Establishing a database of radionuclide transfer parameters for freshwater wildlife. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 299-313. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.07.014

Yankovich, T.; King-Sharp, K.J.; Benz, M.L.; Carr, J.; Killey, R.W.D.; Beresford, N.A.; Wood, M.D.. 2013 Do site-specific radiocarbon measurements reflect localized distributions of 14C in biota inhabiting a wetland with point contamination sources? Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 126. 352-366. 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.04.012

Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Vives i Batlle, J., Potter, E.D., Ibrahimi, Z.-F., Barlow, T.S., Schieb, C., Jones, D.G., Copplestone,  D. 2012. Exposure of burrowing mammals to 222Rn. Sci. Tot. Environ.. 431, 252-261. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.05.023

Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Howard, B.J., Howard, D.C., Wells, C., Tyler, A.N., Bradley, S., Copplestone, D. 2012. Observations of Fukushima fallout in Great Britain. J. Environ. Radioact.114, 48-53. 10.1016/j.envrad.2011.12.008