The activity of natural radionuclides in soil has become an environmental concern for local public and national authorities because of the harmful effects of radiation exposure on human health. In this context, modelling and mapping the activity of natural radionuclides in soil is an important research topic. The study was aimed to model, in a spatial sense, the soil radioactivity in an urban and peri-urban soils area in southern Italy to analyse the seasonal influence on soil radioactivity. Measures of gamma radiation naturally emitted through the decay of radioactive isotopes (potassium, uranium and thorium) were analysed using a geostatistical approach to map the spatial distribution of soil radioactivity. The activity of three radionuclides was measured at 181 locations using a high-resolution γ-ray spectrometry. To take into account the influence of season, the measurements were carried out in summer and in winter. Activity data were analysed by using a geostatistical approach and zones of relatively high or low radioactivity were delineated. Among the main processes which influence natural radioactivity such as geology, geochemical, pedological, and ecological processes, results of this study showed a prominent control of radio-emission measurements by seasonal changes. Low natural radioactivity levels were measured in December associated with winter weather and moist soil conditions (due to high rainfall and low temperature), and higher activity values in July, when the soil was dry and no precipitations occurred.
Volume 132, 2023
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