Activity levels of gamma ray emitting radionuclides in food crop samples in selected tobacco farming areas in Aura and Maracha districts
The farming activities, especially Tobacco production in Terego East and Terego West in Arua district and Maracha East County in Maracha district employ fertilizers such as NPK, DAP, CAN, TSP and UREA to enhance soil fertility property and to increase Tobacco production. Fertilizers are known to contain radionuclides such as uranium, radium, potassium etc., that originate from phosphate rocks; that could accumulate in the soil over the years and these may be absorbed by food crops grown on such soils. Humans who feed on these food crops may then absorb such radionuclides. As Human cells absorb radiation energy, molecules in them get damaged resulting into malfunction of cells through genetic mutation and this can then be a health risk. in this study the specific activity levels of gamma ray emitting radionuclides in selected food crop samples (maize, rice, sorghum, cassava, ground nuts, beans and simsim), grown in soils contaminated by fertilizers was determined using Gamma ray spectroscopy technique, that uses Nal(Tl) detector. The samples were obtained from the six Sub Counties of Omugo, Aii-vu, Odupi, Oriama, Katrini and Bileafe in Arua District and three Sub Counties of Tara, Yivu and Nyadri in Maracha District. The sampling technique used was purposive and simple random. In summary, the mean specific activity levels of radium, thorium, uranium and potassium were 64.0 Bqkg·1 , 6.0Bqkg·1, 3.5 Bqkg·1 and 185.1 Bqkg·1 respectively, in the crop samples considered. The mean specific activity levels for potassium was the highest, followed by radium, thorium ·and the least level shown by uranium. The mean absorbed dose rate was 40.9 nGy/h and the mean annual effective dose rate was 0.1 mSv/yr., for all the crop samples considered. The mean annual effective dose rate for all crop samples determined in this study were within the range recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency as having no observable effects in the human body. Therefore it is recommended that consumption of the food crops investigated should continue as it poses no potential radiation hazard. It is further recommended that investigation should be performed on other crops which are not investigated in this study.