Assessment of natural radioactivity in coals and coal combustion residues from a coal-based thermoelectric plant in Bangladesh: implications for radiological health hazards
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To study the level of radioactivity concentrations from a coal-based power plant (Barapukuria, Bangladesh) and to estimate the associated radiological hazards, coal and associated combustion residuals from the power plant were analyzed by gamma-ray spectrometry with high-purity germanium (HPGe) detector. The results reveal that the mean radioactivity (Bq kg−1) concentrations in feed coal samples are 66.5 ± 24.2, 41.7 ± 18.2, 62.5 ± 26.3, and 232.4 ± 227.2 for U-238, Ra-226, Th-232, and K-40, respectively, while in coal combustion residuals (CCRs), they are 206.3 ± 72.4, 140.5 ± 28.4, 201.7 ± 44.7, and 232.5 ± 43.8, respectively. With the exception of K-40, all the determined natural radionuclides are considerably higher in the investigated feed coal and associated combustion residues as compared with the world soil and world coal mean activities. On the average, CCRs contains 3.10–3.37 times more natural radionuclides than the feed coal, except for K-40. The radioactivity of fly ash and bottom ash is fractionated, and ratio ranges from 1.40 to 1.57. The mean values of the radiological hazard indices in the coal and their associated residuals are 153.1 and 446.8 Bq kg−1 for radium equivalent activity, 0.41 and 1.21 for the external hazard index, 70 and 200.1 nGy h−1 for the absorbed gamma dose rate, 0.09 and 0.25 mSv year−1 for the annual effective dose rate, and 3.0 × 10−4 and 8.6 × 10−4 Sv−1 for the excess lifetime cancer risk, respectively, most of which exceed the UNSCEAR-recommended respective threshold limits. The outcome of this study suggests a potential radiological threat to the environment as well as to the health of occupational workers and nearby inhabitants from the examined samples.
KeywordsCoal-fired thermoelectric plant Bituminous coal Fly ash Bottom ash Radioactivity Radiological hazard indices
The authors would like to acknowledge the Higher Education Research Promotion, Thailand’s Education Hub for Southern Region of ASEAN Countries (TEH-AC) (Contract No.: THE-AC014/2016); funds for Doctor of Philosophy program in Sustainable Energy Management, Faculty of Environmental Management, Graduate School, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand; and the authority of the Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) for all other forms of support for this study. The authorities of BTPS and GSB are acknowledged for providing the necessary samples for this work.
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