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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2014 Jan;158(1):87-99. doi: 10.1093/rpd/nct197. Epub 2013 Aug 9.

Assessment of natural and anthropogenic radioactivity levels in soils, rocks and water in the vicinity of Chirano Gold Mine in Ghana.

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Environmental Protection and Waste Management Centre, Radiation Protection Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, PO Box LG 80, Legon, Accra, Ghana.


Studies have been carried out within and around the operational area of the Chirano Gold Mine Ltd of Ghana to ascertain the baseline radioactivity levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials as well as artificial radionuclides in the surface and underground mines. The analysis was carried out by using gamma spectrometry to quantify the radionuclides of interest, namely (238)U, (232)Th, (137)Cs and (40)K in soil, ore, waste rock and water samples. The average activity concentrations of (238)U, (232)Th, (40)K and (137)Cs in the soil/rock samples were 9.79±5.39, 9.18±7.06, 237.40±144.34 and 0.64±0.57 Bq kg(-1), respectively. For the water samples, the average activity concentrations were 0.86±0.67, 0.97±1.33 and 9.05±10.45 Bq l(-1) for (226)Ra, (232)Th and (40)K, respectively. The total annual effective dose to the public was estimated to be 0.13 mSv, which is below the International Commission on Radiological Protection recommended level of 1 mSv for public exposure control. The study also assessed the elemental concentrations of U, Th and K in the soil/rock samples from the gold mine and surrounding communities. The average concentrations of the U, Th and K were 0.82±0.48, 2.18±1.77 µg g(-1) and 0.77±0.47 %, respectively. The concentrations of U, Th and K were variable in soil and rock samples taken from different locations in the study area with values varying in the range 0.28-2.21, 0.24-6.50 µg g(-1) and 0.28-1.87 %, respectively. The concentrations of U, Th and K are far lower than the world average values but comparable with the range of similar studies for different countries. The concentration values of gross-alpha and gross-beta for all the water samples were below the Ghana Standards Authority and World Health Organisation recommended guideline values for drinking water quality. The results obtained in this study also show that radiation levels are within the natural background radiation levels found in the literature and compare well with those of similar studies for other countries including Ghana.

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