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An analysis of naturally occurring radionuclides and 137Cs in the soils of urban areas using gamma-ray spectrometry

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This study of environmental radioactivity was carried out in the soils of an urban area. Naturally occurring gamma-emitting radionuclides and man-made 137Cs were found in the soil profiles collected from four parks in the central Belgrade city area and the soil layer was examined every 10 cm and to a depth of 50 cm. Radioisotope activity concentrations (Bq kg−1) in the samples of urban soil using the gamma-ray spectrometry method were in the range of 14–46 for 238U, 33–50 for 226Ra, 29–63 for 210Pb, 1.2–3.4 for 235U, 28–50 for 232Th, 424–576 for 40K and 0.7–35.8 for 137Cs. Some of the basic physicochemical soil properties (pH, organic matter content, calcium-carbonate content, particle size distribution) were determined to investigate the impact on the vertical distribution of radionuclides. The results of this investigation showed that variations of activity concentration ratios of radionuclides that belong to the same (238U/226Ra) or different radioactive series (232Th/226Ra; 235U/238U), including 210Pb/137Cs ratios could well be explained by the properties of the soil. Alkaline pH reaction, the accumulation of organic matter in the uppermost and of carbonates in the deepest layers of urban soil had an effect on 238U/226Ra, and 210Pb/137Cs activity concentration ratio values, while 232Th/226Ra and partially 235U/238U ratios were associated with the particle sizes vertical distribution. A study of radionuclides in the samples of leaves of two deciduous tree species common for these parks was also conducted and 210Pb and 40K were found concentrated in leaves rather than other investigated radionuclides.

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This paper was realized as a part of the project “Studying climate change and its influence on the environment: impacts, adaptation and mitigation” (43007) financed by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia within the framework of integrated and interdisciplinary research for the period 2011–2014.

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Correspondence to I. Vukašinović.

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Editorial responsibility: Zhenyao Shen.

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Vukašinović, I., Todorović, D., Životić, L. et al. An analysis of naturally occurring radionuclides and 137Cs in the soils of urban areas using gamma-ray spectrometry. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 15, 1049–1060 (2018).

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