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Issue 4, 2002
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Radiological study of exposure levels in El Maghara underground coal mine

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Abstract

Coal is largely composed of organic matter, but it is the inorganic matter in coal minerals and trace elements that have been cited as possible causes of health, environmental and technological problems associated with the use of coal. Some trace elements in coal are naturally radioactive. These radioactive elements include uranium (U), thorium (Th) and their numerous decay products, including radium (Ra) and radon (Rn). Although these elements are less chemically toxic than other coal constituents, such as arsenic, selenium or mercury, questions have been raised concerning the possible risk from radiation. In order to accurately address these questions and to predict the mobility of radioactive elements during the coal fuel cycle, it is important to determine the specific activity, distribution and form of radioactive elements in coal. The assessment of the radiation exposure from coal burning is critically dependent on the specific activity of radioactive elements in coal and in the fly ash that remains after combustion. The El-Maghara coal mine is the only producing coal mine in Egypt. It is located in the middle of the Sinai desert about 250 km north-east of Cairo, where a coal-fired power plant is intended to be built. In this study, a pre-operational radiological baseline of the site and the occupational radiation exposures due to radon progeny in the mine were determined. The specific activities of 226Ra, 232Th and 40K in soil and coal dust samples collected along the main gallery ranges were found to be 6–22.9, 9.6–47.3 and 77–489 Bq kg−1, respectively. Soil samples collected around the mine showed concentrations of 226Ra, 232Th and 40K in the ranges 2.7–20.2, 3.2–12.6 and 14.6–201 Bq kg−1, respectively. All of the mean values of radon progeny were lower than the action levels for working places recommended in the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) 65.

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Publication details

The article was received on 18 Mar 2002, accepted on 17 May 2002 and first published on 25 Jun 2002


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B202693G
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2002,4, 583-587
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    Radiological study of exposure levels in El Maghara underground coal mine

    H. A. Amer, S. Shawky, M. I. Hussein and M. L. Abd El-Hady, J. Environ. Monit., 2002, 4, 583
    DOI: 10.1039/B202693G

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