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Characterization of Heavy Metals in a Uranium Ore Region of the State of Pernambuco, Brazil


The concentrations of As, Zn, Co, Cr, and Ba were determined in soil samples from an anomalous uranium ore region in the countryside of the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. The main land use system in this region is dairy farming, and there is a need to evaluate the potential risk of milk contamination. Twenty-three soil samples were activated with neutrons and analyzed using a high-resolution gamma-ray spectrometer system. The results, recorded in mg kg−1, varied from 0.4 to 6.7 for As, from 17.0 to 110.0 for Zn, from 2.8 to 38.4 for Co, from 12.1 to 65.5 for Cr, and from 443.0 to 1,497.0 for Ba. All of the Ba concentrations were higher than the intervention value adopted by the Brazilian National Environmental Board. This finding justifies research in other environmental areas to predict the toxicological risks to the local population.

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This research was funded by the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq), which provided a graduate scholarship for the first author of this article. The authors also thank the financial support by the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) in Brazil and the Foundation of Support to Science and Technology in the State of Pernambuco (FACEPE), Brazil, project number 23038.010671/2010-37, through the the National Program Post-doctoral (PNPD) AUX-PE-Partnerships 2472/2010 Grant.

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Correspondence to Jairo Dias Bezerra.

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Bezerra, J.D., dos Santos Amaral, R., dos Santos Júnior, J.A. et al. Characterization of Heavy Metals in a Uranium Ore Region of the State of Pernambuco, Brazil. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 92, 270–273 (2014).

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  • Environmental dosimetry
  • Heavy metals
  • Neutron activation
  • Gamma spectrometry
  • Induced radioactivity