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Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 32, pp 33494–33506 | Cite as

Gamma dose rate distribution in the Unegt subbasin, a uranium deposit area in Dornogobi Province, southeastern Mongolia

  • Yasutaka OmoriEmail author
  • Atsuyuki Sorimachi
  • Manlaijav Gun-Aajav
  • Nyamdavaa Enkhgerel
  • Ganbat Munkherdene
  • Galnemekh Oyunbolor
  • Amarbileg Shajbalidir
  • Enkhtuya Palam
  • Chieri Yamada
Research Article
  • 101 Downloads

Abstract

Unegt subbasin in Dornogobi Province, southeastern Mongolia, contains the Dulaan Uul uranium deposit, for which development for commercial mining has been conducted as of 2015. Zuunbayan is a commune located close to the Dulaan Uul uranium deposit, and residents of Zuunbayan and their livestock can easily approach the uranium deposit area, including an aboveground dump site, which was created as a result of the mining development. The present study measured and analyzed the gamma dose rate (absorbed dose rate in air) distribution in Unegt subbasin using data collected from a car-borne measurement survey. The gamma dose rate increased from the northern (45–65 nGy/h) to the central (50–69 nGy/h, including Zuunbayan) and the southern (54–195 nGy/h, including Dulaan Uul) parts of the study area. The gamma dose rates (up to 195 nGy/h) around the dump site in Dulaan Uul were significantly higher than the background level (< 80 nGy/h) at several points. Additional in-situ measurements showed that the gamma dose rates reached up to 450 nGy/h at these locations, which was primarily attributed to the gamma radiation emitted by 238U series elements. Spatial distribution of gamma dose rates around the dump site revealed that the gamma radiation did not originate from the dump, but from the ground, at the measurement points. Analysis of collected soil samples showed that 238U and 226Ra were concentrated in deeper soil. These results indicate that the gamma dose rates higher than the background level were not associated with the aboveground mine dump; rather, they were very probably caused by presence of uranium deposits close to the ground surface.

Keywords

External exposure Mining Potassium Terrestrial radiation Thorium Uranium 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Mr. Battsatsralt who served as the driver for the car-borne survey undertaken in the present study, and Ms. Ikeda, for drawing the figures presented in the present paper. We would also like to thank Dr. Sahoo (National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan) for fruitful discussions on radionuclide migration in the environment. This paper was improved by valuable and constructive comments from reviewers.

Funding information

This work was supported by Fukushima Medical University (KKI29080 to Y.O.) and the Toyota Foundation (D16-R-0238 to C.Y.).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yasutaka Omori
    • 1
    Email author
  • Atsuyuki Sorimachi
    • 1
  • Manlaijav Gun-Aajav
    • 2
  • Nyamdavaa Enkhgerel
    • 2
  • Ganbat Munkherdene
    • 2
  • Galnemekh Oyunbolor
    • 2
  • Amarbileg Shajbalidir
    • 3
  • Enkhtuya Palam
    • 4
  • Chieri Yamada
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Radiation Physics and ChemistryFukushima Medical UniversityFukushimaJapan
  2. 2.The Executive Office of the Nuclear Energy CommissionUlaanbaatarMongolia
  3. 3.Center for Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring of Dornogobi ProvinceSainshandMongolia
  4. 4.National Center for Public Health, Ministry of HealthUlaanbaatarMongolia
  5. 5.Department of Public Health Nursing for International Radiation ExposureFukushima Medical UniversityFukushimaJapan

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