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Study of Primordial 226Ra, 228Ra, and 40K Concentrations in Dietary Palm Dates and Concomitant Radiological Risk

Khandaker, Mayeen Uddin1,2; Shuaibu, Hauwau Kulu2,3; Alklabi, Farida Assghir Amar2; Alzimami, Khalid S.4; Bradley, D.A.1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000001042

The presence of natural radionuclides in the food chain point to a need to assess concentration levels and concomitant radiological risk. Highly popular and forming a staple part of the diet in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and West Asia, palm dates growing naturally there have even greater marketability than simple satisfaction of domestic demand, the palm dates representing a valuable export item. Accurate knowledge of the levels of natural radioactivity in the fruit is thus of importance. In this study, using high-purity germanium gamma-ray spectrometry, quantification has been made of natural radionuclide concentrations in imported dates originating from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. Sample analyses reveal respective mean activity concentrations of 1.4 ± 0.3, 0.8 ± 0.4, and 186 ± 9 Bq kg−1 dry weight for 226Ra, 228Ra, and 40K. For each nuclide, the mean concentration varies little between the dates of the three represented regions. The estimated committed effective dose resulting from the consumption of date fruits for a typical adult was found to be 29.9 μSv y−1, well below the global internal dose of 290 μSv y−1 assessed by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation to be due to food and water intake. Similarly, the excess lifetime cancer risk due to naturally occurring radioactive material exposure via date fruit consumption is seen to be below the International Commission on Radiological Protection cancer risk factor of 2.5 × 10−3 based on the additional annual dose limit of 1 mSv for a member of the general public. The results show no significant uptake in the analyzed date fruits.

1Centre for Biomedical Physics, School of Healthcare and Medical Sciences, Sunway University, Selangor, Malaysia;

2Department of Physics, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;

3Department of Physics, Bauchi State University Gadau, Bauchi, Nigeria;

4Department of Radiological Sciences, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact M. Khandaker, Centre for Biomedical Physics, School of Healthcare and Medical Sciences, Sunway University, 47500 Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 22 October 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society