The status of natural radioactivity in Nigerian environments

Radiat Environ Biophys. 2022 Nov;61(4):597-608. doi: 10.1007/s00411-022-00993-3. Epub 2022 Sep 29.


Proper documentation of baseline radiation data of different environments is an important step toward adequate environmental monitoring, and it provides quick means to quantitatively check and determine possible radionuclide contamination by anthropogenic sources. Besides, such documentation is useful for decision making processes, assessment of dose rates to the public, epidemiological studies, and environmental regulations. This review summarizes the results of studies conducted on radioactivity in Nigerian environments. For most soil samples, the levels of radioactivity are well within the world averages of 33, 45, and 420 Bq kg-1 for 226Ra, 232Th and 40K, respectively. Other soil samples from regions such as Abeokuta in the southwest, and Jos in the northcentral have been described as high background radiation areas with radioactivity values comparable with those obtained from known high background radiation areas such as the Odisha (formerly Orissa) coast in India (with values reported as 350, 2,825, and 180 Bq kg-1 for 238U/226Ra, 232Th, and 40K, respectively). In some parts of Nigeria, surface and underground water sources used for drinking and other purposes also present elevated levels of 226Ra above the world range of 0.01 to 0.1 Bq l-1 and the tolerable levels recommended by the World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Corresponding radiation doses due to measured radioactivities from different environments were estimated and compared with those reported in similar studies around the world. More so, the human and environmental health hazards that might be associated with the reported radioactivity in different environmental settings are discussed. The present report is expected to support authorities in developing appropriate regulations to protect the public from radiation exposure arising from environmental radioactivity. The report also examines other areas of consideration for future studies to ensure adequate radiation monitoring in Nigeria.

Keywords: Background radiation; NORM; Nigerian environment; Radiation dose; TENORM.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Background Radiation
  • Humans
  • Nigeria
  • Potassium Radioisotopes / analysis
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Monitoring* / methods
  • Radioactivity*
  • Radium* / analysis
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive* / analysis
  • Thorium / analysis


  • Potassium Radioisotopes
  • Soil Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Thorium
  • Soil
  • Radium