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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 300; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030300

Assessment of Radioactive Materials and Heavy Metals in the Surface Soil around the Bayanwula Prospective Uranium Mining Area in China

1
School of Nuclear Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
2
The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Comprehensive Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Huhhot 010031, China
3
College of Geographical Science, Inner Mongolia Normal University, Huhhot 010022, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jason K. Levy
Received: 10 February 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 9 March 2017 / Published: 14 March 2017
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Abstract

The present work is the first systematic and large scale study on radioactive materials and heavy metals in surface soil around the Bayanwula prospective uranium mining area in China. In this work, both natural and anthropogenic radionuclides and heavy metals in 48 surface soil samples were analyzed using High Purity Germanium (HPGe) γ spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The obtained mean activity concentrations of 238U, 226Ra, 232Th, 40K, and 137Cs were 25.81 ± 9.58, 24.85 ± 2.77, 29.40 ± 3.14, 923.0 ± 47.2, and 5.64 ± 4.56 Bq/kg, respectively. The estimated average absorbed dose rate and annual effective dose rate were 76.7 ± 3.1 nGy/h and 83.1 ± 3.8 μSv, respectively. The radium equivalent activity, external hazard index, and internal hazard index were also calculated, and their mean values were within the acceptable limits. The estimated lifetime cancer risk was 3.2 × 10−4/Sv. The heavy metal contents of Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, and Pb from the surface soil samples were measured and their health risks were then assessed. The concentrations of all heavy metals were much lower than the average backgrounds in China except for lead which was about three times higher than that of China’s mean. The non-cancer and cancer risks from the heavy metals were estimated, which are all within the acceptable ranges. In addition, the correlations between the radionuclides and the heavy metals in surface soil samples were determined by the Pearson linear coefficient. Strong positive correlations between radionuclides and the heavy metals at the 0.01 significance level were found. In conclusion, the contents of radionuclides and heavy metals in surface soil around the Bayanwula prospective uranium mining area are at a normal level. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil; radionuclide; heavy metal; uranium mining area; health risk soil; radionuclide; heavy metal; uranium mining area; health risk
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bai, H.; Hu, B.; Wang, C.; Bao, S.; Sai, G.; Xu, X.; Zhang, S.; Li, Y. Assessment of Radioactive Materials and Heavy Metals in the Surface Soil around the Bayanwula Prospective Uranium Mining Area in China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 300.

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