The tubercular badger and the uncertain curve:- The need for a multiple stressor approach in environmental radiation protection.
This article presents the results of a workshop held in Stirling, Scotland in June 2018, called to examine critically the effects of low-dose ionising radiation on the ecosphere. The meeting brought together participants from the fields of low- and high-dose radiobiology and those working in radioecology to discuss the effects that low doses of radiation have on non-human biota. In particular, the shape of the low-dose response relationship and the extent to which the effects of low-dose and chronic exposure may be predicted from high dose rate exposures were discussed. It was concluded that high dose effects were not predictive of low dose effects. It followed that the tools presently available were deemed insufficient to reliably predict risk of low dose exposures in ecosystems. The workshop participants agreed on three major recommendations for a path forward. First, as treating radiation as a single or unique stressor was considered insufficient, the development of a multidisciplinary approach is suggested to address key concerns about multiple stressors in the ecosphere. Second, agreed definitions are needed to deal with the multiplicity of factors determining outcome to low dose exposures as a term can have different meanings in different disciplines. Third, appropriate tools need to be developed to deal with the different time, space and organisation level scales. These recommendations permit a more accurate picture of prospective risks.