Radium in New Zealand agricultural soils: Phosphate fertiliser inputs, soil activity concentrations and fractionation profiles.
Phosphate ores can contain high levels of 238U and its decay products. Of these decay products 226Ra is an important environmental contaminant, while 228Ra from 232 Th day may also be present, albeit at lower activity concentrations. Acid processing of phosphate ore to triple superphosphate elutes a large proportion of the 226Ra from the final product. However, fertiliser production in New Zealand generally avoids acid processing and instead uses single superphosphate and reactive phosphate rock to maintain crop yields, meaning that 226Ra is retained in the final product. As a first step towards characterising the human health impacts from fertiliser-borne radium, research was undertaken to identify loading and long-term accumulation of 226Ra and 228Ra in New Zealand agricultural soils, as well as the fractionation of 226Ra into different soil phases.view journal