Concentration levels of 210Pb and 210Po in dry tobacco leaves in Greece.

Research paper by A A Savidou, K K Kehagia, K K Eleftheriadis

Indexed on: 16 Aug '05Published on: 16 Aug '05Published in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity


Tobacco leaves are large and have sticky exudates that retain the radon decay products once they deposit on the leaves. The study of 210Po in tobacco is required, because of the cumulative alpha-radiation dose delivered to humans from inhaled 210Po in cigarette smoke. 210Pb is the other element of interest since it is the 210Po precursor in the radioactive decay chain. In the present study, the concentrations of these two radionuclides were determined in tobacco samples from seven regions in Greece. 210Po was determined by alpha spectrometry using a surface barrier detector after radiochemical separation and spontaneous deposition of polonium on a nickel disk. The 210Pb activity in the samples was determined via the 210Po resulting from the decay of 210Pb. The results of the present study indicate that 210Po concentrations ranged from 3.6 to 17.0 mBqg(-1) (average 13.1 mBqg(-1)) of dry tobacco, while 210Pb concentrations ranged from 7.3 to 18.0 mBqg(-1) (average 13.4 mBqg(-1)). The mean value of the annual committed effective dose for smokers (20 cigarettes per day) of Greek tobacco was estimated to be 287 microSv (124 microSv from 210Po and 163 microSv from 210Pb). The inhalation dose for smokers is on average about 12 times higher than for non-smokers living in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere.