It has been known for some time that Brazil nuts have a high barium content and their natural radioactivity is the highest among foodstuff grown in areas of normal radiation background. Samples of Brazil nuts of known origin, as well as various parts of their trees, were obtained from different regions of the Amazon valley and analyzed for barium, calcium, 226Ra, 228Ra and total alpha activity. No statistically significant correlation was found between concentrations of calcium and barium in the nuts. In general, however, the samples richer in barium had the highest concentration of radium. In samples of different parts of the same tree a certain parallelism was noticed between barium and radium contents. The high radioactivity of Brazil nuts was explained, in agreement with the opinion of other authors, by its tree capacity of absorbing and concentrating barium, which is the natural carrier of radium. Some observations were made on the possibilities of people who consume a considerable amount of the nuts, during many years, building up elevated radium body burdens.
©1968Health Physics Society