Nick Beresford

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

Dr Nick Beresford


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 120 papers in the refereed literature. With Dr Jim Smith (University of Portsmouth), I published Chernobyl Catastrophe and Consequences in 2005.


Main Research Areas

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.

Some of the techniques developed in these radioecological studies were subsequently applied to the development of heavy metal transfer models.

Development and testing of countermeasures

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 countermeasure may be applied within restoration strategies (EURATOM STRATEGY project).

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 decade 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 been involved in a number of programmes to assess and improve models such as the ERICA Tool including, field studies and international evaluation exercises (see below).

In the PROTECT project (led by CEH) I was involved in the derivation of screening dose rate benchmarks using methodologies applied within chemical risk assessment (namely species sensitivity distributions).  I have also established natural background dose rates for wildlife including a study to determine the doses to burrowing mammals due to inhaled 222Rn.

Currently I am involved in a NERC Knowledge Exchange project which is providing training (largely to regulators, non-departmental government bodies and industry) on radiological environmental assessment.

International activities

I was a key contributor to the chapter on farm animal transfer in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (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 am a member of an ICRP Task Group which has prepared a report for Committee 5 on the transfer of radionuclides to the ICRPs 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 which began in February 2010.

Selected Recent Publications

Also see the NERC Open Research Archive.

Beresford N.A. 2010. EDITORIAL: The transfer of radionuclides to wildlife (editorial)  Radiation Environ Biophys. 49, 505-508.

Beresford N.A., Barnett, C.L., Brown, J.E., Cheng, J-J., Copplestone, D., Gaschak, S., Hosseini, A., Howard, B.J., Kamboj, S., Nedveckaite, T.,  Olyslaegers, G., Smith, J.T., Vives I Batlle, J., Vives-Lynch, S. and Yu, C. 2010. Predicting the radiation exposure of terrestrial wildlife in the Chernobyl exclusion zone: an international comparison of approaches. J. Radiol. Prot. 30, 341-373.

Beresford, N.A., Hosseini, A., Brown, J.E., Cailes, C., Beaugelin-Seiller, K., Barnett, C.L. and Copplestone. D. 2010. Assessment of risk to wildlife from ionising radiation: can initial screening tiers be used with a high level of confidence? J. Radiol. Prot., 30, 265-284.

Copplestone, D., Brown, J.E. and  Beresford, N.A. 2010. Considerations for the integration of  human and wildlife radiological assessments  J. Radiol. Prot., 30, 283-297.

Copplestone, D., Beresford, N.A. and Howard, B.J. 2010. EDITORIAL: Protection of the Environment from Ionising Radiation: developing criteria and evaluating approaches for use in regulation, J. Radiol. Prot., 30, 191-194.

Garnier-Laplace, J., Della-Vedova, C., Andersson, P., Copplestone, D., Cailes, C., Beresford, N.A., Howard, B. J., Howe, P., Whitehouse, P. 2010. A multi-criteria weight of evidence approach for deriving ecological benchmarks for radioactive substances, J. Radiol. Prot., 30, 215-233.

Gashchak S, Beresford N.A., Maksimenko A., Vlaschenko A.S. 2010. Strontium-90 and caesium-137 activity concentrations in bats in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, Radiation Environ Biophys., 49 (4), 635-644.

Hosseini, A., Beresford N.A., Brown, J.E., Jones, D.G., Phaneuf, M., Thørring H.,  Yankovich, T. 2010. Background dose-rates to reference animals and plants arising from exposure to naturally occurring radionuclides in aquatic environments, J. Radiol. Prot., 30, 235-264.

Howard, B. J., Beresford, N. A., Andersson, P., Brown, J. E., Copplestone,  D., Beaugelin-Seiller, K., Garnier-Laplace, J., Howe, P. Oughton, D., Whitehouse, P. 2010. Protection of the environment from ionising radiation in a regulatory context – an overview of the PROTECT coordinated action project. J. Radiol. Prot., 30, 195-214.

Nisbet, A.F., Brown, J., Howard, B.J., Beresford, N.A., Ollagnon, H., Turcanu., C., Camps, J., Andersson, K., Rantavaara, A., Ikäheimonen, T., Duranova, T., Oughton, D., Kirchner, G., Papachristodoulou, C., Ioannides, K., Kwakman, P. 2010. Decision aiding handbooks for managing contaminated food production systems, drinking water and inhabited areas in Europe. Radioprotection, 45 (5), S23-S37.

Wood M.D., Beresford N.A., Semenov D.V., Yankovich T.L., Copplestone D. 2010. Radionuclide transfer to reptiles. Radiation Environ Biophys., 49, 509-530.

Yankovich, T.L., Vives i Batlle, J., Vives-Lynch, S., Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Beaugelin-Seiller, K., Brown, J.E., Cheng, J-J., Copplestone, D., Heling, R., Hosseini, A., Howard, B.J., Kamboj. S, Kryshev, A.I., Nedveckaite, T., Smith, J.T., Wood, M.D. 2010. An International model validation exercise on radionuclide transfer and doses to freshwater biota. J. Radiol. Prot., 30, 299-340.

Yankovich T.L., Beresford N.A., Wood M., Aono T., Andersson P., Barnett C.L., Bennett P., Brown J., Fesenko S., Hosseini A., Howard B.J,  Johansen M, Phaneuf  M., Tagami K., Takata H., Twining J. and Uchida S. 2010. Whole-body to tissue concentration ratios for use in biota dose assessments for animals Radiation Environ Biophys., 49, 549-565.

Andersson, P., Garnier-Laplace, J., Beresford, N.A., Copplestone, D., Howard, B.J., Howe, P., Oughton, D., Whitehouse, P. 2009. Protection of the environment from ionising radiation in a regulatory context (PROTECT): proposed numerical benchmark values. J. Environ. Radioact. 100, 1100-1108.

Barnett, C.L., Gaschak, S., Beresford, N.A., Howard, B.J., Maksimenko, A. 2009. Radionuclide activity concentrations in two species of reptiles from the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Radioprotection, 44, 5, 537–542.

Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Beaugelin-Seiller, K., Brown, J.E., Cheng, J-J., Copplestone, D., Gaschak, S., Hingston, J.L., Horyna, J., Hosseini, A., Howard, B.J., Kamboj, S., Kryshev, A., Nedveckaite, T., Olyslaegers, G., Sazykina, T., Smith, J.T., Telleria, D., Vives i Batlle, J., Yankovich, T.L., Heling, R., Wood, M.D., Yu, C. 2009. Findings and recommendations from an international comparison of models and approaches for the estimation of radiological exposure to non-human biota. Radioprotection 44, 5, 565–570.

Beresford, N.A., Beaugelin-Seiller, K., Brown, J.E., Copplestone, D., Hosseini, A., Andersson, P., Howard B.J. 2009. Protection of the environment from ionising radiation in a regulatory context (PROTECT): assessment approaches - practicality, relevance and merits. Radioprotection 44, 5, 623-628.

Copplestone, D., Andersson, P., Beresford, N.A., Brown, J., Dysvik, S., Garnier-Laplace, J., Hingston, J., Howard, B.J., Oughton, D., Whitehouse P. 2009. Protection of the environment from ionising radiation in a regulatory context (PROTECT): Review of current regulatory approaches to both chemicals and radioactive substances Radioprotection 44, 5, 881-886.

Fesenko, S., Isamov, N., Howard, B.J., Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Sanzharova, N. and Voigt, G. 2009. Review of Russian language studies on radionuclide behaviour in agricultural animals: 3. Transfer to muscle. J. Environ. Radioact., 100, 215-231.

Fesenko, S., Howard, B.J., Isamov, N., Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Sanzharova, N., Voigt, G. 2009. Review of Russian language studies on radionuclide behaviour in agricultural animals (4): poultry J. Environ. Radioact. 100, 815-822

Galeriu, D., Melintescu, A., Beresford, N.A., Takeda, H. and Crout, N.M.J. 2009. The dynamic Transfer of 3H and 14C in Mammals: A Proposed generic model. Radiat. Environ. Biophys., 48, 29–45.

Howard, B.J., Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Fesenko, S. 2009. Radionuclide transfer to animal products: revised recommended transfer coefficient values.  J. Environ. Radioact. 100, 263-273.

Howard, B.J., Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Fesenko, S. 2009.  Quantifying the transfer of radionuclides to food products from domestic farm animals. J. Environ. Radioact. 100, 767-773.

Howard, B.J., Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L. and Fesenko S. 2009. Gastrointestinal fractional absorption of radionuclides in adult domestic ruminants. J. Environ. Radioact. 100, 1069-1078.

Jones, D.G., Appleton, J.D., Breward, N., Mackenzie, A.C., Scheib, C., Beresford, N. A., Barnett, C.L., Wood, M.D. and Copplestone, D. 2009. Assessment of naturally occurring radionuclides around England and Wales: application of the G-BASE dataset to estimate doses to non-human species. Radioprotection 44, 5, 629-634.

Wood, M.D., Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Copplestone, D., Leah, R.T. 2009. Assessing radiation impact at a protected coastal sand dune site: An intercomparison of models for estimating the radiological exposure of non-human biota. J. Environ. Radioact. 100, 1034-1052.