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Assessment of Radon Concentration and Impact on Human Health in a Region Dominated by Abandoned Gold Mine Tailings Dams: A Case from the West Rand Region, South Africa

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School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag X3, Wits, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa
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Department of Geology, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa
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Private Consultant, 60 Kambro, 82 Olifant Street, Doornkloof 0157, South Africa
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Parc RGM, Private Bag X54598, Nina Park, Pretoria 0156, South Africa
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(11), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9110466
Received: 7 September 2019 / Revised: 24 October 2019 / Accepted: 29 October 2019 / Published: 31 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Environment and Human Health)
Radon gas has long been identified as a human carcinogen. The purpose of this study was to understand the occurrence of radon gas in the West Rand region, located west of the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, and to investigate its potential health effects. In this study, the sampling of rocks, tailings, and construction materials was carried out for geochemical analyses. For characterisation of radon, 60 radon monitors (RGMs) were installed in indoor and outdoor environments. The results showed that mine tailings contain high uranium levels, with a maximum of 149.76 ppm and a mean value of 48.87 ppm. The radon levels in the area ranged between 32 Bq/m3 and 1069 Bq/m3 and thus, exceed the typical outdoor radon levels of about 10 Bq/m3. Significantly high values were obtained from gold tailings dams. In indoor environments, radon concentration ranged up to a maximum of 174 Bq/m3, which is above the recommended value of 100 Bq/m3. The effective doses calculated from the obtained radon levels showed a maximum of 16 mSv/y, which is above the recommended value of 1 mSv/y proposed for public exposure. The estimated doses have an enormous potential to pose high lung cancer risks to the populations residing nearby tailings. View Full-Text
Keywords: abandoned gold tailings dams; annual effective dose; lung cancer; radon; South Africa abandoned gold tailings dams; annual effective dose; lung cancer; radon; South Africa
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Moshupya, P.; Abiye, T.; Mouri, H.; Levin, M.; Strauss, M.; Strydom, R. Assessment of Radon Concentration and Impact on Human Health in a Region Dominated by Abandoned Gold Mine Tailings Dams: A Case from the West Rand Region, South Africa. Geosciences 2019, 9, 466.

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