Welcome to Centre for Environmental Radioactivity

Centre for Environmental Radioactivity (CERAD CoE) will provide new scientific knowledge and tools for better protection of people and the environment from harmful effects of radiation

CERAD CoE will develop an ecosystem based scientific approach to help protect people and the environment from ionizing radiation, with a programme of targeted focused long term research. 

The CERAD CoE is designed to perform long term fundamental research to substantially improve the ability to accurately assess the radiological risks from environmental radioactivity, also combined with other stressors.

By focusing on key factors contributing to the overall uncertainties, CERAD will represent a state-of-the-art research foundation for the advancement of new tools and methods needed for the better assessment and management of those risks.

CERAD’s core objective is to provide the scientific basis for impact and risk assessments which underpin management of radiation risks in combination with interacting stressors.The scope includes man-made and naturally occurring radionuclides in the environment that were released in the past (i.e., accidental and operational legacies), those presently released as well as those that potentially can be released in the future from the nuclear fuel cycle and non-nuclear industries.

The objectives of CERAD can only be achieved through the integration of national and internationally leading scientists to take part in the implementation of the Research Areas.

The CERAD CoE has been designed to answer the following overarching hypotheses

• Radioactive particle releases: Air/water transport of particles will differ from that of aerosols/ions.

• Ecosystem transfer, biological uptake and the subsequent accumulation in living organisms of radionuclides are driven by changes in radionuclide speciation over time.

• Kinetics: Improved transfer and exposure assessments to take account of time- and temperature dependent changes will reduce uncertainty. 

• Responses at the cellular or molecular biomarker level can be correlated with effects at the organism level. Particle exposure and localised doses can increase risks.

• Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE): Due to actions at different sites, the RBEs derived for alpha and low level beta emitters for human cancer risks will not be applicable for ecologically relevant endpoints (e.g. reproduction, growth).

• Multiple stressors: Ionising radiation, UV and other chemical stressors act by either same modes of action or different modes of action or at different sites. Combined responses will deviate from simple dose or concentration assessments and might give additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects.

There are 4 key factors that motivated the establishment of CERAD
1. Many sources can contribute to releases of radioactivity in the future. We are surrounded by a series of potentially releasing nuclear/radiological sources [1], including NORM sources [2]. State-of-the- art “competence” must be in place to manage these risks.

2. “Competence (the deep knowledge of the theories, principles and scientific methods needed to reduce trial and error – relating radiological inputs, biological and ecosystem processes, outputs and outcomes)” must be available when needed. Competence in radioecology was built in Norway and other countries during the nuclear weapons test period. Following the test ban, when global fallout decreased, the competence and recruitment within nuclear sciences declined. When the Chernobyl accident occurred, “competence” was not available when needed, and many decisions were made on poor scientific grounds. The competence built post-Chernobyl is again declining in Europe, despite the continuing legacy and new nuclear renaissance challenges. The Fukushima accident showed also that competence was not in place when needed. Thus, again, lessons had not been learned.

3. Science/New knowledge/Recruitment needed. There are important gaps in knowledge that contribute to unacceptable uncertainties in impact and risk assessments. The challenges are inspiring and should contribute to basic science in an innovative fruitful scientific environment, attracting young scientists.

4. Science must underpin the risk management to maintain public trust. In this field of research, the distance between science, economy and politics is short. To maintain public trust and avoid unnecessary anxiety often enhanced by the media, decisions must be based on stronger and more extensive scientific foundations (linking release/emissions to outcomes for man and the environment on the local, national and international scale). It is equally important to identify what is a hazard and what is not.


[1] Governmental document based on The Crisis Committee for Nuclear Preparedness "Nuclear Threats" report (2008) The Norwegian government, Oslo, Norway, 2010. 

[2] Pollution Control Act (Forurensningsloven), 1981. LOV-1981-03-13-6.