As a part of the China-Japan cooperative research on natural radiation epidemiology, we have carried out a dose-assessment study to evaluate the external exposure to natural radiation in the high background radiation areas (HBRA) of Yangjiang in Guangdong province and in the control areas (CA) of Enping prefecture since 1991. Because of the difficulties in measuring the individual doses of all inhabitants directly by personal dosimeters, an indirect method was applied in which the exposed individual doses were estimated from the environmental radiation doses measured by survey meters and the occupancy factors of each hamlet. We analyzed the dose in the hamlets and the variation in the occupancy factors to obtain the parameters of dose estimation on the inhabitants in selected hamlets; Madi and several hamlets of different dose levels in HBRA and Hampizai hamlet in CA. With these parameters, we estimated individual dose rates and compared them with those obtained from direct measurement using dosimeters carried by selected individuals. The results obtained are as follows. 1) The environmental radiation doses are influenced by the natural radioactive nuclide concentrations in building materials, the age of the building and the arrangement of the houses in a hamlet. There existed a fairly large and heterogeneous distribution of indoor and outdoor environmental radiations. The indoor radiation doses were due to exposure from the natural radioactive nuclides in the building materials and were about two times as large as the outdoor radiation doses. The difference between indoor and outdoor doses was not observed in CA. 2) The occupancy factor was influenced by the age of individuals and by the season of the year. The occupancy factor was higher for infants and aged individuals than for other age groups. This lead to higher dose rates of exposure to those age groups. 3) A good correlation was observed between the dose assessed indirectly and that measured directly and the correlation factor was 0.97.
2000 by Journal of Radiation Research Editorial Committee