The ERICA Tool

Originally developed under EURATOM funding the ERICA Tool (implementing the ERICA Integrated Approach is now probably the most widely used model to estimate radiological risk to terrestrial, freshwater and marine wildlife. The Tool guides the user through the assessment process (it has a comprehensive help function), recording information and decisions and allowing the necessary calculations to be performed to estimate risks to selected animals and plants. In common with many environmental assessment approaches for different stressors the Tool uses a ‘tiered approach’. Tiered approaches start with a simple initial screening progressing to more refined assessments if required. The aim  is  to  ensure  that the  level  of  detail  in  a  risk  assessment is proportionate  with  the  nature and complexity  of the  risk being  addressed and consistent  with  decision-making  needs.

Within the ERICA Tool, Tier 1 assessments are media concentration based and use pre-calculated environmental media concentration limits (EMCLs) to estimate risk quotients. Tier 2 calculates dose rates but allows the user to examine and edit most of the parameters used in the calculation including concentration ratios, distribution coefficients, percentage dry weight soil or sediment, dose conversion coefficients, radiation weighting factors and occupancy factors. The user can also input biota wholebody activity concentrations if available rather than rely upon concentration ratios. Tier 3 offers the same flexibility as Tier 2 but allows the option to run the assessment probabilistically if the underling parameter probability distribution functions are defined. ​Results from the Tool can be put into context using incorporated data on dose effects relationships (using the FREDERICA database) and background dose rates. The Tool has simple transport models embedded to enable conservative estimates of media activity concentrations from discharge data if measurements are not available; the transport models are taken from IAEA (2001) Generic models for use in assessing the impact of discharges of radioactive substances to the environment. IAEA Safety Report Series 19 STI/PUB/1102.

Following its release in 2007 the first major update of the Tool (v1.2) was released in 2014. Key changes were the updating of the Tools underlying transfer parameter database. In 2019 a further update (v1.3) was released which had new functionality allowing temporal and spatial series data to be input.

Professional training courses with a focus on the use of the ERICA Tool are available.

The Tool is freely available from: http://www.erica-tool.eu/ 

The ERICA Tool is maintained by a consortium led by the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (DSA); a number of ALLIANCE members contribute to ERICA Tool developments. 

Key documentation 

Brown, J.E., Alfonso, B., Avila, R., Beresford, N.A., Copplestone, D., Hosseini, A. 2016. A new version of the ERICA tool to facilitate impact assessments of radioactivity on wild plants and animals.
J. Environ. Radioact. 153, 141-148. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.12.011 

Avila, R., Beresford, N.A.,  Brown, J., Hosseini, A. 2014. Response to Authors. The selection of parameter values in studies of environmental radiological impacts. J. Radiol. Prot. 34,  261-262.  https://doi.org/10.1088/0952-4746/34/1/L01

Brown J.E, Beresford N.A. Hosseini A. 2013. Approaches to providing missing transfer parameter values in the ERICA Tool - How well do they work? J. Environ. Radioact. 126, 399-411.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2012.05.005

Brown, J.E., Alfonso, B., Avila, R., Beresford, N.A., Copplestone, D., Pröhl, G., Ulanovsky A. 2008. The ERICA Tool. J. Environ. Radioact., 99, 1371-1383. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.01.008

Beresford, N.A., Barnett, C.L., Howard, B.J., Scott, W.A., Brown, J.E., Copplestone D. 2008. Derivation of transfer parameters for use within the ERICA Tool and the default concentration ratios for terrestrial biota.
J. Environ. Radioact., 99, 1393-1407. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.01.020

Larsson, C-M. 2008. An overview of the ERICA Integrated Approach to the assessment and management of environmental risks from ionising contaminants. J. Environ. Radioact., 99, 1364-1370, 
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2007.11.019

Hosseini, A., Thorring, H., Brown, J.E., Saxen, R., Ilus, E. 2008. Transfer of radionuclides in aquatic ecosystems - Default concentration ratios for aquatic biota in the Erica Tool. J. Environ. Radioact., 99, 1408-1429. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.01.012

Ulanovsky, A., Prohl, G., Gomez-Ros, J.M. 2008. Methods for calculating dose conversion coefficients for terrestrial and aquatic biota. J. Environ. Radioact., 99, 1440-1448. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.01.010

Beresford, N., Brown, J., Copplestone, D., Garnier-Laplace, J., Howard, B.J., Larsson, C-M., Oughton, O., Pröhl, G., Zinger, I. (eds.) 2007. D-ERICA: An INTEGRATED APPROACH to the assessment and management of environmental risks from ionising radiation. Description of purpose, methodology and application. D_ERICA; Annex 1, Annex 2

Galeriu D, Beresford, N.A., Melintescu, A., Avila, R. and Crout, N.M.J. 2003. Predicting tritium and radiocarbon in wild animals Contributed Papers Conf. on the Protection of the Environment from the Effects of Ionizing Radiation (Stockholm, 2003) (Vienna: IAEA) pp 186-9 (IAEA-CN-109).

Frequently Asked Questions