An Innovative Tool to Control Occupational Radon Exposure
1.1. Radon and Lung Cancer
1.2. EU Regulation: Generic Framework for Radon Protection in the Workplace
- Checking radon potential. There is radon potential if the workplace is occupied over 50 h a year and if it is located on one or more of the following locations :
- Radon-prone area according to national radon maps;
- Underground, including basements, mines and caves;
- Thermal facilities and facilities for underground water treatment or storage;
- Buildings where high radon levels have been previously detected;
- Other workplaces specified in National Radon Plans or other national regulations.
- Measuring radon concentration. If there is radon potential, radon concentration should be measured following the competent authority guidelines :
- If the concentration is above the national reference level, step 3 applies;
- If the concentration is below national reference level, measurement shall be repeated periodically as required by national regulations, and if there is any indication of a radon increase .
- Mitigation should be done following approved construction guidelines . There are official guidelines published at the country level on how to perform adequate constructive interventions to mitigate radon, for instance, in the Technical Building Code (CTE) website in Spain , or in the UKradon website . After mitigation, radon concentration should be measured to verify effectiveness . If constructive mitigation indeed reduces the concentration below the reference level, step 2.b applies; otherwise, step 4 applies.
- If constructive mitigation cannot decrease radon concentration below the reference level after reasonable attempts, an operational mitigation can be done . Before engaging in operational mitigation, the regulator may require adequate justification on why constructive mitigation is not feasible .Operational mitigation consists of managing workers’ exposure through dose surveillance . Directive 2013/59/Euratom establishes two workers categories depending on their annual effective dose:
- Category B workers: Those exposed to 6 mSv or less per year must undergo “dose revision” to confirm they indeed do not exceed 6 mSv per year .
- Category A workers: Those exposed above 6 mSv require a “planned exposure” management that involves notification to the competent authority and the use of dosimeters in the workplace among other requirements. The effective dose limit is set at 20 mSv/year for all workers .Note: Pregnant and breastfeeding workers and those under 18 years old have specific dose limits (<1 mSv) .
- “Plan” phase: The objective was defined through 4 face-to-face sessions between authors. The relevant bibliography and stakeholders were also identified in these sessions.
- “Do” phase: The solution proposal was generated based on: exhaustive review of selected regulatory and scientific references, active search and review of good practices within institutional websites from different countries, and ongoing face-to-face brainstorming sessions among authors.As a result, the main deliverable was a detailed document with a tentative solution proposal reviewed and approved by all authors. The list of stakeholders was also confirmed in this phase. The tentative solution included Excel sheets where different exposure scenarios were tested and reported.
- “Check” phase: The tentative solution proposal was sent for review to 4 stakeholders comprising the main types of stakeholders (workers, regulators, and employers). The solution proposal was checked sequentially as follows (Figure 2).Each stakeholder first received an informative phone call inviting them to participate. Once accepted, the document with the solution proposal was sent in Word format through email. Stakeholders were requested to review the document, add comments or correctios, and provide feedback on whether the solution was accurate, pertaining (would they use it or recommend using it?) and socially fair. Once the stakeholder sent their feedback, it was either directly included or discussed and then included or excluded upon agreement with the stakeholder. Then, the document was updated and sent to the next stakeholder.All stakeholders confirmed that the solution was accurate, pertaining and socially fair. Most of their comments and corrections where minor and did not affect the content of the proposal. The regulator feedback was the most relevant in content and was fully included in the solution proposal.The main outcome of this phase was the final solution proposal.
- “Act” phase: The solution proposal was materialized in a software application (see the Section 3) which was again tested and reviewed with the different stakeholders.
- Initial registration: This step only needs to be performed once unless there are new workers or work sites.
- Registration of the different work sites by introducing a name or ID for each site and its mean annual concentration of radon.
- Registration of the different workers by introducing an identifier and a name for each of them. Each worker’s accumulated dose is automatically updated by the tool and can be viewed at any time in this window. A report with all workers’ individual accumulated dose can also be downloaded at any time here.
- Compliant planning in four steps: These need to be followed for each job planned.
- Selection of work zone and work time as needed;
- Selection of workers from the list of “available” workers. Available workers are those that can perform the planned work without surpassing the established dose limits (set at 6 mSv per year). The worker dose is automatically updated during the planning. The tool would not allow a job being assigned to an “available” worker that would exceed 6 mSv after the job (e.g., if a worker has accumulated 5.6 mSv and the planned job would add 0.5 mSv, the tool would show an error box indicating that the selected worker cannot perform the job);
- Verification of the selected data: where the user can make one last check before completing the planning: once planned, the job data would flow to a dashboard;
- Confirmation of plan completion: Once the job has been completed, the user can edit the job in the dashboard if there was any change in the job plan (e.g., if the job took longer than expected, if an additional worker joined, if the worksite change). Any change in the plan would update workers’ dose count as applicable. If the job was carried out as planned, the user can just confirm that this was the case in the dashboard.
- Compliant reporting: Workers’ accumulated doses and the history of all planned jobs in the dashboard can be viewed at any time, and it can be downloaded for reporting purposes (for instance, quarterly or yearly for internal reporting) or in the case of inspection or upon request from a competent authority.
5. Impact on Global Goals
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Martin-Gisbert, L.; Ruano-Ravina, A.; Barros-Dios, J.M.; Varela-Lema, L.; Pérez-Ríos, M. An Innovative Tool to Control Occupational Radon Exposure. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 11280. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811280
Martin-Gisbert L, Ruano-Ravina A, Barros-Dios JM, Varela-Lema L, Pérez-Ríos M. An Innovative Tool to Control Occupational Radon Exposure. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(18):11280. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811280Chicago/Turabian Style
Martin-Gisbert, Lucía, Alberto Ruano-Ravina, Juan Miguel Barros-Dios, Leonor Varela-Lema, and Mónica Pérez-Ríos. 2022. "An Innovative Tool to Control Occupational Radon Exposure" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 18: 11280. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191811280