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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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13/04/2016

Research: IRSN and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories work together for better assessment of tritium toxicity


Environmental discharges of tritium from nuclear activities and their potential health impact are a radiation protection issue. IRSN and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) work to acquire new scientific knowledge intended to feed discussions on the suitability of the existing radiation protection system.

Little is still known about the human and environmental effects of the tritium discharged by nuclear facilities, a radionuclide which can build up in their immediate surroundings. IRSN has been working with CNL since 2011 to acquire new scientific knowledge about tritium.

This joint research project by IRSN and CNL is designed to evaluate both the biokinetics of tritium depending on its form (organically bound tritium or tritiated water) and its toxicity under possible chronic low-dose exposure around nuclear facilities. Experiments involving chronic exposure to both forms of tritium have been conducted on rodents. The initial results show that:

  • under the chosen experimental conditions, both physicochemical forms share similar biokinetic behavior,
  • the most significant biological effects were observed with the organically bound tritium at the exposure levels under study, regardless of the exposure period or method concerned,
  • no non-cancerous pathologies were observed. With respect to the cancer effects, the results of the current experiments being conducted over the entire life of the animals are expected within three years.

This joint research project complements “tritium” topic in the “Euratom 2016-2017” call for projects.


More information


Video : Tritium measurement

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