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Investigation of Natural Radioactivity in a Monazite Processing Plant in Japan

Iwaoka, Kazuki*†; Yajima, Kazuaki*; Suzuki, Toshikazu; Yonehara, Hidenori; Hosoda, Masahiro§; Tokonami, Shinji; Kanda, Reiko*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000692
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Monazite is a naturally occurring radioactive material that is processed for use in a variety of domestic applications. At present, there is little information available on potential radiation doses experienced by people working with monazite. The ambient dose rate and activity concentration of natural radionuclides in raw materials, products, and dust in work sites as well as the 222Rn and 220Rn concentrations in work sites were measured in a monazite processing plant in Japan. Dose estimations for plant workers were also conducted. The activity concentration of the 238U series in raw materials and products for the monazite processing plant was found to be higher than the relevant values described in the International Atomic Energy Agency Safety Standards. The ambient dose rates in the raw material yard were higher than those in other work sites. Moreover, the activity concentrations of dust in the milling site were higher than those in other work sites. The 222Rn concentrations in all work sites were almost the same as those in regular indoor environments in Japan. The 220Rn concentrations in all work sites were much higher than those in regular indoor environments in Japan. The maximum value of the effective dose for workers was 0.62 mSv y−1, which is lower than the reference level range (1–20 mSv y−1) for abnormally high levels of natural background radiation published in the International Commission of Radiological Protection Publication 103.

*National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, 4‐9‐1 Anagawa, Inage, Chiba 263‐8555, Japan; †Institute of Radiation Emergency Medicine, Hirosaki University, 66‐1 Honcho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036‐8564, Japan; ‡National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4‐9‐1 Anagawa, Inage, Chiba 263‐8555, Japan; §Hirosaki University Graduate School of Health Sciences, 66‐1 Honcho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036‐8564, Japan.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: K. Iwaoka, National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, 4‐9‐1 Anagawa, Inage, Chiba 263‐8555, Japan, or email at kanda.reiko@qst.go.jp.

(Manuscript accepted 20 April 2017)

© 2017 by the Health Physics Society