Radionuclide species comprising the primordial radioactive decay chains lead by 232Th and 238U, along with their associated daughter and granddaughter decay series, constitute a major fraction of the naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). Gamma-ray radiation emitted by the decay of these NORMs, along with the 40K in the soil, is mainly responsible for the human exposure to external gamma-rays. The radioactivity concentrations in soil samples collected from 138 sites have been determined as part of a survey to produce a radiological map of AL-Qassim, Al-Ghat, Al-Majmaah, and Al-Zulfi regions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The estimated mean values of 238U, 232Th, 40K, 226Ra, and gross α and β activities in the samples were 23.8 ± 11.61, 24.33 ± 17.63, 790 ± 398, 22.83 ± 11.70, 375 ± 205, and 734 ± 344 Bq kg−1, respectively. The radiological risk indices related to the natural radioactivity in the soil samples, i.e., the absorbed dose rate in air, radium equivalent activity, and annual effective dose rate, were estimated to be 58.88 ± 29.21 nGy h−1, 117.1 ± 59.65 Bq kg−1, and 0.07 ± 0.04 mSv year−1, respectively. The determined internal hazard index of the samples ranged from 0.07 to 1.45, with an estimated mean value of 0.4 ± 0.2. The radon concentration in the soil gas ranged from 39 to 508 Bq m−3, with a mean value of 145.0 ± 52.9 Bq m−3.
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The author gratefully acknowledges Dr. Naser Alazmi for making the radiological maps (Environmental Radiation Protection Laboratory, Kuwait) and Mr. Muzahir Ali Baloch (Physics Lecturer in the Majmaah University, Saudi Arabia) for sample preparation and data collection.
The author acknowledges the financial support provided by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology under project No. 35-37.
Conflict of interest
The author declares no conflict of interest.
Responsible Editor: Amjad Kallel
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Alharbi, T. Establishment of natural radioactivity baseline, mapping, and radiological hazard assessment in soils of Al-Qassim, Al-Ghat, Al-Zulfi, and Al-Majmaah. Arab J Geosci 13, 415 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-020-05420-9
- Natural radionuclides
- 222Rn soil gas
- Gross α and β
- Risk assessment