Natural radioactivity in virgin and agricultural soil and its environmental implications in Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia

Document Type : Original Research Paper


School of Physics, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia



A study on natural radioactivity in virgin and agricultural soil samples collected from Sungai Petani was conducted using high-purity germanium. The mean activity concentrations of 226Ra, 232Th, and 40K in virgin soils were 51.06±5.83, 78.44±6.42, and 125.66±7.26 Bq kg−1, respectively, while those in agricultural soils were 80.63±5.78, 116.87±7.87, and 200.66±18.24 Bq kg−1, respectively. The corresponding activity concentrations in agricultural soils were higher than those in virgin soils and those reported for other countries of the world. The average values of radium equivalent activity (Raeq), external hazard index (Hex), internal hazard index (Hin), outdoor annual effective doses (Eout), and indoor annual effective doses (Ein) in agricultural soils were 258.38 Ba kg−1, 0.708, 0.925, 0.162 mSv y−1, and 0.669 mSv y−1, respectively. The average values of outdoor external dose (Dout) and indoor absorbed dose (Din) rate in agricultural soils were 116.04 and 218.46 nGy h−1, respectively, which were higher than the permissible limit. Soil with Hex and Hin less than unity are suitable for use as building materials and in agriculture.


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