Determination of Natural Radioactivity in the United Arab Emirates
Natural radioactivity is a common constituent of all environmental matrices: Geosphere,
Hydrosphere and Biosphere. It was either primordially or cosmogenically produced. During
their lifetime, human beings can be exposed to environmental radioactivity in several ways.
Therefore, it is important to track the source and origin of the nuclear activities; either natural
or other declared/undeclared activities (e.g., nuclear power plant operation).
United Arab Emirates has proven its determination to move forward with its nuclear policy
commitments through several steps, the most important of which are the adoption of
international instruments related to nuclear safety and security and the non-proliferation of
nuclear weapons, as well as the adoption of the establishment of a legal and governmental
framework within the state, and it shows its determination through continuous support for
the development of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy program.
In the framework of the ambitious peaceful nuclear program of the United Arab Emirates
(UAE), this work was launched to draw a pre-operational baseline reference natural and
artificial radioactivity image and map.
The International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) and the United Nations Scientific
Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) documents were considered the
backbone of this work. A comprehensive regional and worldwide literature survey was
summarised and presented in a separate chapter.
In the field, four wheeled drive vans, aircrafts and boats were used to reach the sites to be
monitored. The area of study was divided into four major regions. Abu Dhabi Emirate,
Dubai and Northern Emirates and Islands in the Arabian Gulf. 79 soil, sediment, and water
samples were collected using the specific planned sampling mechanism.
An advanced γ-spectrometer; High Purity Germanium (HPGe) with its electronics and
software, was used to identify and quantify radionuclides and their radioactivity. The system
was energy and efficiency calibrated using standard 137Cs, 60Co and 226Ra Check Sources.
For the collected samples, the chemical and physical properties were determined;
mechanical and x-ray diffraction analysis were also carried out. The specific activities of
natural 238U, (226Ra) were calculated and found in soil samples to be in the range (from 1.24
± 0.16 to 55.05 ± 2.75 Bq/kg), in shore sediments samples to be in the range (from 0.63 ±
0.03 to 67.60 ± 3.38 Bq/kg). The specific activities of natural 232Th were calculated and
found in soil samples to be in the range (from 0.57 ± 0.02 to 16.44 ± 0.82 Bq/kg), in shore
sediments samples to be in the range (from 0.46 ± 0.02 to 27.5 ± 1.35 Bq/kg). The specific
activities of natural 40K were calculated and found in soil samples to be in the range (from
4.85 ± 0.24 to 531.08 ± 26.5 Bq/kg), in shore sediments samples to be in the range (from
0.58 ± 0.02 to 528.76 ± 26.43 Bq/kg), in Gulf water samples to be in the range (from 3.19 ±
0.15 to 17.36 ± 0.86 Bq/L)
The specific activities of anthropogenic fall-out 137Cs were calculated and found in soil
samples to be in the range (from 0.04 ± 0.01 to 7.00 ± 0.35 Bq/kg), in shore sediments
samples to be in the range (from 0.02 ± 0.01 to 3.26 ± 0.16 Bq/kg). The hazard indices,
radium equivalent, annual effective dose, external hazard index, γ- and α-index, were also
estimated and evaluated.
The measured specific activities of 238U (226Ra), 232Th, 40K and 137Cs are presented in figures
and tables. The correlations and 3D figures with comparison with the mean worldwide
values are also presented. It was clearly observed that the obtained activity and hazard
indices are within the reference recommended values and limits.
Finally, the results of this thesis will also be used as a radiological and environmental safety
signature for monitoring operation of the first peaceful nuclear power plant in the UAE.