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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


Authorization to Direct Research (HDR)

Biological indicators of radionuclide exposition and effects in freshwater ecosytems

​Christelle Adam has defended her HDR on 2nd May 2007

at Cadarache's INSTN (France).


Mr Rémi Chappaz, Laboratoire Hydrobiologie, University of Provence (examinator)

Mr Alain Devaux, Laboratoire des Sciences de l’Environnement, ENTPE Lyon, (examinator)

Mrs Jacqueline Garnier-Laplace, Laboratoire de Radioécologie et d’Ecotoxicologie, IRSN (examinator)

Mrs Elena Gomez, Laboratoire Hydrosciences, Faculté de Pharmacie Montpellier II (reporter)

Mr Jean-Charles Massabuau, Laboratoire Géochimie et Ecotoxicologie des Métaux dans les Systèmes Aquatiques (reporter)

Mrs Catherine Massiani, Laboratoire de Chimie et Environnement, University of Provence (reporter)

Mrs Florence Pannier, Laboratoire de Chimie Analytique, University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour (examinator)


The researches described in the present work come within the ecological risk evaluation problem related to radionuclide presence in freshwater ecosystems. This evaluation is based on exposure pathway analysis leading to different ecosystem compartment contamination, and also on induced biological effect analysis.

The studied contaminants all belong to the class of metals or metalloids. Their behaviour is specific to the chemical element and to the (a)biotic receptor media. Consequently, the exposure and effect analyses cannot be generic and entail the identification of key parameters and methods to ensure a relevant risk evaluation.

Thus, kinetic contamination estimation for different levels of the trophic chain must involve extrapolation methods, allowing the representativeness of the results to be enhanced (e.g. phytoplanctonic community responses vs monospecific algal cultures ; influence of ecological parameters such as season or habitat ; influence of a multipollution context). The aqueous or tissular contaminant speciation is also of capital importance for its bioavailability and its toxicity, as demonstrated with uranium and selenium.

The chemical form of the metal/radionuclide and its properties as essential metal or not, are also a determining factor in the incidence and severity of any effects. They are determined using endpoints, measured from the molecular level (e.g. oxidizing stress) to the populational level (e.g. algal growth). Within the framework of these researches, two sorts of alterations were particularly studied: the genotoxic and neurotoxic alterations, likely to have repercussions from the organism level, up to the populational level.


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