Atmospheric radioactivity monitoring

2010

Supervising Scientist Note series
Contact officer: Andreas Bollhöfer, Environmental Radioactivity Program
Supervising Scientist, September 2010

About the document

Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive element that is mined in Australia as a commodity for export. Because of the radioactive properties of the mineral resource, uranium mining and milling can result in above background radiation doses to both workers and members of the public. The two airborne pathways that are important and may lead to an increased radiation exposure to members of the public are inhalation of dusts containing uranium and inhalation of radon and its progeny.

The Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss) has conducted atmospheric radioactivity monitoring at three sites in the vicinity of the Ranger uranium mine - Jabiru, Jabiru East and the Four Gate Road radon station near Mudginberri - to measure radon progeny in air and long-lived alpha activity condentrations in airborne dust. This monitoring has been ongoing since January 2003. The monitoring results indicate that the contribution from the two pathways to member of the public radiation doses is less than 10% of the recommended annual dose constraint as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The atmospheric monitoring conducted by eriss provides independent assurance that there is no unacceptable radiation risk to members of the local community from inhalation of radioactivity in air associated with Ranger operations.