Gamma-radiation levels outdoors in Great Britain based on K, Th and U geochemical data

Appleton, J.D.; Kendall, G.M.. 2022 Gamma-radiation levels outdoors in Great Britain based on K, Th and U geochemical data. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 251-252, 106948.

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Gamma-rays from naturally occurring radionuclides are a major component of background radiation. They are an important tool for geology and are also important for radiation protection. In this paper we use over a quarter of a million geochemical measurements of concentrations of potassium, thorium and uranium in soils and in stream sediments to estimate outdoor gamma-ray dose rates across Great Britain. The soil concentrations are generally at a depth of 5–20 cm with some at 35–50 cm. Soil measurements will give spatially relatively precise estimates, but as soil data are not available for much of Scotland, stream sediment data are used there. Kriging methods are used to estimate surface concentrations of K, Th and U and dose rates are imputed from these concentrations. Our results are compared with measurement surveys of both outdoor and indoor gamma-ray dose rates. Recently there has been interest in exploring the carcinogenic risks of low dose radiation by investigating associations between childhood cancer rates and doses from natural background gamma radiation. To achieve adequate statistical power, such studies must be so large that it is impractical to assess exposures by direct measurements in the homes of study subjects. Instead the exposures must be modelled. The results presented here will be an important input to such work.

Item Type: Publication - Article
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ISSN: 0265931X
Date made live: 07 Jul 2022 11:07 +0 (UTC)

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