Radium-226 present in rock phosphate is carried to CaCO3, the main process waste sludge of the fertilizer industry. Disposal of the sludge in the environment enhances the radiation background in the area. Two states of adherence of radium in the sludge have been identified, one loosely bound and the other chemically exchanged. The loosely bound fraction accounts for nearly 40% of the total activity, as demonstrated by leaching studies. Laboratory experiments show that activity leach-out by infiltration of water through the sludge is low. Lateral seepage is found to cause extensive areal contamination due to dispersal of suspended solids in the vicinity of the disposal area. The rate of emanation of radon from the sludge is found to be high, a factor of 10 over the normal background emanation rate. The radiation field in the waste disposal area also shows enhancement, with levels 4-6 times higher than natural background. © 1984.
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