Radionuclides in the Environment : Radium

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Abstract

Radium (chemical symbol Ra) is a radioactive element with chemical properties similar to calcium and barium. The isotopes of environmental concern are 226Ra with a half-life of 1600 years, and 228Ra with a half-life of 5.7 years; these isotopes are naturally occurring and are the decay products within the 238U and 232Th radioactive series, respectively (see Uranium; Thorium). Radium occurs in minute quantities in the environment, but is of concern due to its high radiotoxicity. Hence much public health attention has focused on its assessment and control in water and soil. Elevated radium concentrations in environmental media can be the result of natural processes (as in the case of some groundwater), or associated with either nuclear fuel cycle activities (such as uranium mining and milling) or nonnuclear industry activities (such as phosphoric acid production and oil-field brine disposal). Concerns regarding the biological uptake of radium, and its incorporation into human food chains have been the impetus for considerable environmental monitoring and research on the partitioning between soil and water (as described by ‘‘distribution coefficients’’) and between soil and plant tissues (as described by ‘‘concentration factors’’).

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRadionuclides in the Environment
Place of PublicationWest Sussex, United Kingdom
PublisherWiley - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Pages97-108
Edition1
ISBN (Print)9780470714348
StatePublished - 25 May 2010

Publication series

NameRadionuclides in the Environment

Keywords

  • radium

ID: 190636