Until recently, radiation dose calculations primarily focused on human tolerance, but research shows that nonhuman organisms may be more sensitive to radiation than humans. In the past few years, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has been developing a set of Reference Animals and Plants to assess radiation effects on nonhuman species. Casey King, Mario Gomez, Thomas Iverson, and Junwei Jia in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics focused their senior project on developing dose conversion factors for honeybees (genus Apis).
“Conversion factors allow us to convert exposure to dose — to quickly calculate it to determine the effects on whatever ecosystem we want to study,” said King.
The team used a micro-CT scanner to create a three-dimensional model of the bee’s tissues and structures, analyzing 512 image slices to determine dose effects. Results of their project will be submitted to the ICRP to inform the organization’s efforts to protect living systems from radiation exposure. “They will use this data to determine the dose that the animal might receive and what protective measures might need to be taken,” said King.