Next Article in Journal
Future Climate Change Renders Unsuitable Conditions for Paramo Ecosystems in Colombia
Next Article in Special Issue
A Technical Assessment of Comfort Performance of Hanok Using Comparative Field Surveys between Experts and Users
Previous Article in Journal
The Impact of Implementing Talent Management Practices on Sustainable Organizational Performance
Previous Article in Special Issue
A Multidimensional Model for the Vernacular: Linking Disciplines and Connecting the Vernacular Landscape to Sustainability Challenges
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Radiation Protection Legislation and Sustainable Development of a Rural Green Tuff Village of Ischia Island

Giuseppe La Verde
Vittoria D’Avino
Carlo Sabbarese
Fabrizio Ambrosino
Vincenzo Roca
Adelaide Raulo
1 and
Mariagabriella Pugliese
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, INFN sezione di Napoli, Via Cinthia ed. 6, 80126 Naples, Italy
Dipartimento di Farmacia, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Via Montesano 49, 80131 Naples, Italy
Dipartimento di Matematica e Fisica (DMF), Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Viale Lincoln 5, 81100 Caserta, Italy
Dipartimento di Fisica “Ettore Pancini”, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Via Cinthia ed. 6, 80126 Naples, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8374;
Submission received: 15 September 2020 / Revised: 6 October 2020 / Accepted: 9 October 2020 / Published: 12 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Exploration of Sustainability in Traditional Rural Buildings)


Radiological risk affects the quality of the environment in buildings since population and workers can be potentially exposed to high levels of radiation. Radon gas emanating from both subsoil and building materials represents the most important source of radiation exposure for people. This study investigates the sustainability concept of a small rural village of Ischia Island, named Ciglio, in relation to radiation protection legislation concerning the radiological risk for workers. Radon activity concentration was measured in typical green-tuff dwellings and in water samples collected from a local waterfall E-Perm devices. Moreover, for green tuff as building material, the radon emanation coefficient was calculated by gamma spectroscopy. The results highlight the importance of performing environmental radon monitoring and investigating the radon content of building materials, especially in geographical areas characterized by traditional use of typical stones for constructions. In conclusion, the sustainable development of rural buildings is possible if the radiological risk for inhabitants and workers is assessed in line with the national radiation protection legislation.

1. Introduction and Literature Review

In recent years the issue of sustainability has aroused an increasing interest in different fields of study as it involves a wide range of human activities, such as policy, economy, traditional culture and civil architecture [1,2,3,4,5]. Sustainability is a multidimensional concept with various perspectives in the natural, historical, environmental and cultural texture of communities in both cities and rural areas.
In particular, traditional rural areas and one-off built structures represent an important imprint of our cultural heritage; preserving the local architectural heritage and transferring it to future generations has a great impact on sustainability.
Despite widely available literature on the concept of sustainability [4,6,7,8,9], definition of “sustainable building” are still unclear and biased [10]. Generally, “design and construction of sustainable buildings” usually refers to the energy efficiency, renewable materials and reduction of emissions, wastes and pollutants in buildings, neglecting the relations between built, natural and social systems [11]. Indeed, sustainable development of villages and their buildings have a significant influence on the economy, on resource demand and consumption, building design and construction, planning and transport, and communication [4].
Many works report studies on the relation between the traditional Italian rural landscape and the individual and social dimension, detecting the variety and richness of rural buildings that represent the cultural identity and economy of the local communities [12,13,14,15]. In this context, management strategies and cultural heritage policies are fundamental to implement the functional use of the rural spaces while preserving the landscape at the same time [13].
The sustainability approach in the building sector has led the construction industry to consider economic, environmental and social aspects rather than time, cost and quality as indicators of the level of efficiency [7]. In the available literature, recent studies report Italian regional cases studies on the building typologies and the sustainable development of rural settlements. The reuse of the locally available construction materials and the enhancement of traditional rural buildings (TRBs) have been a strategic solution in support of the sustainable policy [8,16].
Over the years, various European and national programs, supported by financial projects, have promoted the reuse of TRBs aiming at preserving, developing and supporting local identities and natural resources [17,18,19]. The rehabilitation of TRBs can be an opportunity for the local communities to implement different tourist attractiveness and activities: accommodation facilities, meeting places, conference halls, restaurants, hotels, museums, residential centers and much more. The phenomenon of rural tourism is becoming increasingly popular since visitors rediscover historical traditions, memories and social identities, at the same time as they enjoy the natural landscape [17,20,21]. It is clear that, as consequence of the sustainable development of rural areas, the presence of people (inhabitants, visitors and workers) involved in receptive activities or guided tours, is intensified. Consequently, sustainable planning of social, cultural and economic activities must be integrated with an appropriate planning for the safety of occupants, workers and public.
The knowledge of the territory and surrounding environment, construction techniques and materials, plays a key role in the implementation of adequate security and protection conditions.
The history of the Ischia Island (southern Italy) is mainly characterized by the volcanism activity that influenced the geological and morphological structure of the island and surrounding area. The island represents the emerged portion of a wide volcanic field including both Somma-Vesuvius and the Phlegrean Fields. As consequence, the soil composition of Ischia has peculiar mineralogical, chemical and textural characteristics, which are then found in the building materials used for constructions. In particular, a small rural village near Serrara Fontana Ischia, named Ciglio, is a touristic attraction thanks to its green landscape and ancient constructions.
Typical buildings of Ciglio were built with green tuff, a natural stone widely spread on the island after Mount Epomeo eruption [22]. About 55000 years ago, there was a strong activity in a large magma chamber located under the island of Ischia. The deposits of these mighty eruptions are known as the “Monte Epomeo Green Tuff”. The grey-green color was probably caused by the prolonged contact of the rock with seawater. The chemical composition of green tuff consists primarily of phillipsite, pyrogenic K-feldspar and clay minerals. Mineralogical, chemical and textural information on green tuff as well as details on geological history of the Ciglio area are available in ref. [23].
The abundance of this material in this place has influenced the architecture and construction techniques. There are in fact two peculiar techniques: sculpting directly into the rock to obtain a habitable space or extracting blocks of tuff from the original sites and building above the street level. Buildings built with a combination of the two techniques can also be observed. Today these traditional buildings are intended for residential or tourist accommodation.

2. Aim of the Study, Radon Issue and Legislative Background

The main topic of this study is the contribution to environmental radioactivity from the most abundant component of natural origin: radon gas. We have focused on the issue of radiation protection for the public and workers, analyzing it both based on Italian legislation and European directive [24,25]. Radon (222Rn) is a radioactive gas (half-life of 3.8 days) produced by the radium-226 (226Ra) in the uranium-238 (238U) decay chain. It is a naturally occurring element present in soil, rocks and earth’s crust. Short-living alpha emitters descendants of 222Rn (218Po, 214Pb, 214Bi and 214Po) with a half-life of a few seconds are responsible for a natural source of internal exposure. The lungs are affected when aerosols carrying these radioactive decay products from the radon gas are inhaled. Once deposited on the surface of the lungs, the radioelements emit alpha rays which can penetrate deep enough to reach the cells of the bronchioles and lead to the DNA damage that underlies mutations which could cause cancer [26]. In 1998, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radon and its decay products as carcinogens of group 1 for humans [27] and in 2009 the Worth Health Organization (WHO) identified in radon the second highest cause of lung cancer, after smoking [28]. The risk of radon exposure depends on the radon concentration in homes and workplaces (radon indoor) where people spend most of their time [29,30]. Radon enters in buildings mainly through the porous basement foundations but also as radioactive content in natural stones used as building materials [31] and especially accumulates on floor levels. Since radon mobility is influenced by the rock porosity, radon concentration in tuff-constructed buildings is potentially much higher than constructions built with materials characterized by a more compact matrix.
As it is well known, the full amount of radon produced in the matrix (soil and building materials) does not have the potential to reach the environment. In fact, only a fraction of radon atoms acquires the minimum kinetic energy to leave the grain of the material where it has been generated, so as to reach the empty space in the solid matrix. This process is named emanation and the emanated radon fraction is the emanation coefficient.
In addition to inhalation, another source of incorporation of radionuclides, and therefore of internal radiation, is the ingestion of these through drinking water which contains a level of concentration of radon enough to increase the probability of biological damage. It has been estimated that a daily consumption of 2 L of water with a radon concentration of 100 Bq/L can provide an annual effective dose of about 0.1 mSv [32]. This value of radon activity concentration is defined “parameter value” (or “attention value”), established by the current Italian Legislative Decree 28/2016 [32], which implements the Council Directive 2013/51/EURATOM regulating the radiological control of water intended for human use. If the concentration of radon gas activity exceeds the parameter value, it is mandatory to calculate the so-called indicative dose to ensure consumer safety.
Concerning the health protection of people against the risk deriving from ionizing radiation, in particular from inhalation of radon gas, the Italian legislation is represented by the Legislative Decree 241/00 (in force at the time of measurement), that establishes an action level of mean annual radon concentration equal to 500 Bq/m3 and an annual effective dose of 3 mSv/year in the workplaces. The decree identifies radon risk areas: underground workplaces such as tunnels, subways, catacombs, caves and areas with specific characteristics where are implemented activities involving workers and, eventually, the public as stated in the Article 10-bis, comma 1, letter a of the Legislative Decree 241/00, [24]. On the other hand, the letter b of the same Article indicates the “work activities during which the workers and possibly people from the public are exposed to decay products of radon or thoron, or a gamma radiation or any other exposure in places of work other than those referred to in letter a) in areas well identified or with specific characteristics”. Ischia Island, due to its volcanic origin, has its own specific characteristics. Recently, in August 2020, Italy implemented Directive 2013/59/EURATOM [25] with Legislative Decree 101/2020, which repeals Legislative Decree 241/00. The greatest social and managerial impact of Legislative Decree 101/2020 lies in the updating and expansion of the recommendations for the protection of health in all closed environments, including workplaces and homes, in a monitoring program of radiation. In particular, the Legislative Decree 101/2020 at Article 12 comma 1 establishes the reference level of the radon concentration equal to 300 Bq/m3 both in buildings intended for residential use and in workplaces, and raises the limit of the effective average annual dose up to 6 mSv. In this framework, our study was performed before the emanation of the current legislation; consequently, the results are presented and interpreted according to the Legislative Decree 241/2000.
The aim of this work was to strengthen the concept of sustainability by introducing the variable of safe work and public employment. About territorial examination, many works of literature have reported measurements of the activity indoor radon concentration in Italian homes [33,34], underground workplaces [35,36], schools [37,38,39,40] and tourist attraction sites on the island of Ischia such as thermal spas centers [41]. However, none of them investigate the impact of the radiation exposure issue on sustainable environmental design and development. In this work, we investigated some aspects of the exposure risk to radon deriving from the radon content in different material and environments (indoor air, water and building materials) in the village of Ciglio on Ischia Island. One church and one dwelling were selected for the measurements of radon indoor activity concentration. Six samples of water were collected in loco from an ancient waterfall to measure radon content. The average annual effective dose for the radioprotection of workers was estimated according to Decree 241/00 only when the concentration of radon activity exceeded the reference value. Finally, a preliminary radiological characterization of green tuff was performed measuring the emanation coefficient of five samples extracted from a site near the church.

3. Materials and Methods

3.1. Traditional Rural Buildings Selected for Radon Concentration Measurements

Ciglio is a small rupestrian village of seventeenth century with a great landscape impact and famous for its “stone houses” carved into the rock, once used as a dwelling and today integrated with modern houses built along the road that climbs to the slopes of Mount Epomeo. The south-western side of the Ischia Island, including Ciglio, is pervaded by a large amount of green tuff, so much so that native construction techniques based on the use of this natural stone have been encouraged in this area. The buildings were used to support the economic and sustenance activities of the pre-industrial era, based on agriculture and winemaking. Often these buildings were equipped with a single opening and without windows or with a little hole above the access door. The stone houses served different purposes, both for the preservation of the products and as a shelter for the farmers and breeders, who spent much time on the mountain. These buildings date back to the 14th–15th centuries and their use has been continuous for about 500 years. To date, even if most dwellings are abandoned, many of them have been converted in warehouses, garages, stables, and accommodations as well. Furthermore, the stone houses constitute a tourist attraction together with some rock constructions of religious nature. For our investigation and radiological characterization, two TRB sites were selected as representative of the two construction techniques in use: a house, obtained by digging directly into a rock boulder, and a church built with extracted tuff blocks (Figure 1a,b). In addition, six samples for the radiological water analysis were collected, from a tap directly connected to a cave in which a small waterfall flows from the overlooking Mount Epomeo and from inside the church.
Finally, for the radon emanation study from typical stones, tuff bricks were collected, emulating the same approach as the builders in the area who used the material found in the surrounding areas.

3.2. Measurement of Radon Activity Concentration in Air

Radon concentration measurements in indoor air were carried out using a conventional electret passive environmental radon monitor (E-Perm) electret ion chamber (EIC) system manufactured by Rad. Elec. Inc., (Frederick, MD, USA) [42,43,44,45].
The measurements were performed in the radioactivity laboratory certified UNI EN ISO 9001: 2015 for measures of concentration of activity of radon gas [46].
E-Perm devices were used in Long–Long Term (LLT) configuration: chamber Long Term and low sensitivity electret Long Term [43].
The charge loss of the electret was measured using an electrometer (Rad. Elec. Inc. Mod. 6383-01, Frederick, MD, USA).
The picture in Figure 2 shows the electrometer and Long and Short E-Perm chambers.
Since E-Perm are sensitive to gamma radiation, radon concentration measure requires corrections for cosmic and terrestrial radiation background. The method has been already described in detail elsewhere [41]. The gamma dose rate was measured at each site using a portable proportional counter (Berthold Technologies, Germany). The range of gamma dose rate across the monitored sites varied from a minimum of 0.27 ± 0.01 µGy h−1 to a maximum of 0.31 ± 0.02 µGy h−1.
The radon concentration was calculated applying the appropriate calibration factor and the exposure time, according to Equations (1) and (2) given by Kotrappa et al. [44]:
C R n = [ ( V i V f ) C F × T   G γ C 1 ] ×   37
C F = C 2 + C 3   ( V i V f ) / 2
  • Vi and Vf: electret voltage readings before and after exposure respectively;
  • T: exposure time in days;
  • Gγ: gamma dose rate in µR h−1;
  • C1 = 0.59, C2 = 0.02383, C3 = 0.0000112: constants given by the manufacturer depending on configuration and volume of the E-Perm chamber.
The measurement was carried out between November 2019 and July 2020.
The E-Perm devices were exposed in several places of the selected buildings in order to have a significant distribution of measured values of radon concentration. In particular, three measurement points were chosen in the San Ciro church and one in the living room of the dwelling, where occupants spent most of their time. The planimetry of the buildings with the scheme of exposure of the E-Perm systems is reported in Figure 3. The E-Perm devices were exposed away from windows and doors, at about 1.5 m above the floor and 0.5 m from the wall. The exposure period was long (232 days).

3.3. Measurement of Radon Activity Concentration in Water

As for indoor radon measurement, E-Perm EIC system were used to perform radon activity concentration measurement in water. Six water samples were collected directly from the tap with bottles of 140 mL each, taking care to fill them slowly in order to avoid radon lack. After transport to the laboratory, within about 24 h of collection, each 140 mL bottle was opened and immediately placed in a 4 L glass jar with a suspended E-Perm chamber in Short-Short Term configuration (SST) (Figure 4).
The jar containing the electret and water sample was sealed (airtight) for 94 h to allow radon to reach equilibrium with its daughters. To determine the radon concentration in the water sample, the reading of the voltage electret discharge was used with a formula (3) provided by the manufacturer [42]:
C R n ( w a t e r ) = C R n + B 1   + B 2 + B 3  
  • CRn: radon concentration measured in the air inside the jar by Equations (1) and (2) where C1 = 0.097, C2 = 1.670, C3 = 0.0005742;
  • B1: period between the collection of the water sample and the start of the measurement;
  • B2: period from the time of inserting the sampling bottle into the jar until the E-Perm is removed;
  • B3: ratio between the volume of the jar and the water sample.
A more detailed description of the formula is available in ref. [36].

3.4. Calculation of Annual Effective Radon Dose

The annual effective dose (H) due to exposure of radon progeny in air was calculated from the experimentally determined value of radon concentration using expression (4):
H   ( mSv   y 1 ) =   C   R n × O × D
  • CRn: indoor radon concentration (Bq m3);
  • O: occupancy factor (2000 h y−1 at work);
  • D: dose coefficient.
Italian legislation [24] suggests using the conventional dose coefficient of 3 × 10−6 mSv per Bq h m−3 (Annex I-bis, comma 6).
D expressed in terms of 222Rn gas exposure includes the equilibrium factor F, representing the equilibrium between radon gas and its short-lived decay products. The value of the equilibrium factor is between 0.1 and 0.9 and depends on many environmental variables [47], however the environmental conditions of the buildings were standard and for this reason in this study we adopted the standard hypothesis of F = 0.4 as the Italian legislation established for most indoor situations.

3.5. Emanation Coefficient

3.5.1. Sample Preparation

Before analysis, each sample was processed according to the protocol UNI EN ISO 18589-2:2015 (Measurement of radioactivity environment—Soil guidance for the selection of the sampling strategy, sampling and pre-treatment of samples) in order to obtain a homogenous and uniform matrix. The samples were prepared reducing bricks to powder by grinding with the Planetary Ball Mills (PM 100 Retsch, Thermo Fischer Scientific, Milan, Italy). The planetary is able to reduce the input material to a fine-grained matrix down to less than 1 micron. The obtained powder was sieved and dried in an oven (DIGITRONIC Selecta 2005141; JP Selecta, Barcelona, Spain) at 105 °C for 2 h, thus it was homogenized according to the measurement techniques [10]. The final product was weighted and sealed in a Marinelli Beaker for 4 weeks to allow 226Ra and gamma daughters to reach secular equilibrium. The number of the analyzed samples was enough to ensure statistical significance.

3.5.2. Emanation Coefficient Measurement

The emanation coefficient of 222Rn in samples of green tuff was obtained by the ratio between the activity concentration of emanated radon fraction and the total radon concentration in equilibrium with 226Ra in the same material. The first one was measured in an electrostatic collection chamber (see Figure 5a); the total activity concentration of 226Ra in the materials was measured by gamma ray spectroscopy on another sample of the same material put in a Marinelli beaker. The measured emanation coefficient was obviously referred to the characteristic of the material.
The measurement of the radon concentration released in air was measured by putting the sample into a box characterized by a diameter of 8 cm and height equal to 2.5 cm included in a chamber of 0.765 L. A positive high voltage applied between chamber wall and alpha detector produced the transport of ionized daughter of radon (218Po) and Thoron (216Po) on the detector surface. Therefore, the alpha particles emitted can reach the depleted zone of the diode without energy loss and in these conditions a high-resolution alpha particles spectrometry can be performed, despite the presence of air in the chamber.
The energy performance of the high-resolution gamma spectrometry system, consisting of a coaxial High Purity 129 Germanium (HPGe ORTEC®) detector, model GMX-45P4ST (see Figure 5b), was defined by the relative efficiency equal to 48% and energy resolution, measured as full width at half maximum (FWHM), equal to 2.16 keV at 1.33 MeV. The detector was equipped with a beryllium window that ensured a good sensitivity also at energy lower than 100 keV. The minimum detectable activity (MDA) of the system was estimated with 95% confidence level. The detector was shielded from external background by 7.5 cm lead circular wall.
The spectra were acquired by Ortec DSPEC-LF unit plus MCA Emulator software and analyzed with GammaVision Spectrum Analysis Software.
The alpha lines for the measurement of the exhalated radon fraction was that at 7687 keV of 214Po and that at 6030 keV of 218Po. The line of 218Po interfered with the line at 6090 keV of 212Bi (Thorium series) so to take this contribution into account, it was subtracted from peak due to 214Po and 214Bi, half of the intensity of the single peak of 212Po at 8784 keV of the same series.
The gamma measurements were carried out on a sample of the same grain size characteristic in 1 L Marinelli Beaker. The gamma rays used for determining the total radon content of the green tuff were 295 keV, 352 keV (214Bi) and 609 keV (214Pb).
Alpha spectra data were saved in different files coming from the alpha detector, with related files included in a single directory.

4. Results

The radon activity concentrations for each measurement point in the church and dwelling are reported in Table 1.
The mean radon concentration in the six water samples was 12 ± 1 Bq/L.
The measurement of emanation coefficient in the six samples of green-tuff stones provided a mean value of 8 ± 2%.

5. Discussion

The results show that according to the national legislation for the workplace [24], in the church one measurement point (#3 see Table 1), corresponding to the sacristy, exceeded the action level of 500 Bq/m3. Obviously, the value of radon concentration in the sacristy also exceeded the reference level of 300 Bq/m3 recommended by the European Commission in Directive 2013/59/EURATOM [25] and thus also the recent Italian legislation [48]. In the other measurement points of the church, the radon concentration was lower than the reference value.
The result is very interesting for the consequence concerning the eventual presence of people in the building. Italian regulation requires implementing adequate remedial actions (i.e., architectural remediation, building configuration, ventilation), if the mean annual effective dose exceeds the level of 3 mSv/y. For the conventional occupancy time of 2000 h/y in the sacristy, the mean annual effective dose results in 3.3 mSv/y. In this case, the sacristan and the priest spend only 150 h/y, as they stated, corresponding to a mean annual effective dose of 0.2 mSv/y.
The study was performed independently on the intended use of the building since the dwelling and the San Ciro church are representative of local constructive techniques (carved directly into the rock and built with extracted tuff, respectively) used to construct other buildings potentially intended for activities involving workers and opened to the public.
The value of radon concentration measured in the dwelling meets the requirements of the Italian regulation [48], with results below 300 Bq/m3, and it is consistent with the results reported in a previous work [49], investigating the radon concentration in several dwellings of Ischia Island. However, we can assert that the occupants of this area should frequently open windows and doors in order to reduce the radon concentration and consequently the effective annual dose, through natural ventilation, since the value of radon activity concentration in the dwelling resulted much higher than the regional mean 95 ± 3 Bq/m3 reported in ref. [33]. In addition, radon mitigation should aim to achieve the WHO recommended goal of lowering the level of radon concentration in homes below 100 Bq/m3 in order to limit the risk to individuals [28]. The effectiveness of natural ventilation on reducing radon indoor level has been already evaluated in some dwelling of Puglia region (southern Italy) [50].
The radon activity concentration found in water samples was within the limit stated by the Italian regulation (<100 Bq/L) [32]. Consequently, neither further screening of radioactivity content nor any risk assessments and corrective actions are mandatory. The safety of the water flow was assessed for eventually ingestion; it is interesting to note that the presence of the water flow could have an effect of the indoor radon concentration in the surrounding environment. In fact, the high value of radon concentration in the sacristy with respect to the other rooms could be attributed to two causes: the presence of water flow which releases the radon gas and the tuff-walls without plaster. We can speculate that since radon has solubility in water depending on the temperature and other conditions of the microenvironment, a percentage of radon reaches the surface inside the sacristy. In a future work, we are planning to estimate the contribution of the radon content in water to radon accumulation in the surrounding environment, though further measurements will be designed ad hoc. On the other hand, in the sacristy, the radon emanated from the green tuff could greatly contribute to the indoor accumulation. In the other rooms, the plaster probably acts as a screen for alpha particles, which do not reach the environment.
The emanation coefficient measured from the green-tuff samples was comparable with the values reported in ref. [51] for volcanic materials used as building material in Campania region, including tuff from Monte Epomeo on Ischia Island. In addition, the result obtained was comparable with those contained in the ISTISAN report 17/36 [52] for volcanic tuff. This report is an extensive database of emanation rate measured in approximately 1500 samples of building materials or their components used in the construction industry in most European Countries. The estimation of radon emanation rate from building materials is crucial to assess the radon exposure hazard since the dominant contributor to indoor radon is the emanation from soil and fractured bedrock close to the surface. In this context, recent studies deal with radon exposure risk and lung cancer incidence in south-eastern Italy [53,54], together with radiological characterization of typical stones used for constructions [31].
The findings of the study remark the importance to monitor the radon concentration in traditional buildings that potentially could come into programs of promotion of multifunctional use of TRBs. The Ciglio area is representative of the entire Italian peninsula, which increasingly promotes sites with peculiar architectural and geological characteristics. Therefore, the radiological surveillance of the environments, indicating the level of exposure risk, seems to be a priority before taking into account the development of any area leading to high occupancy time for workers and the general population. Similar to Ciglio, in these regions, local geology led to a widespread use of building materials potentially rich in uranium and radioactivity.
The obtained results provide information useful to design a development planning of rural and touristic activities, in line with the sustainability concept in areas where the enhancement of local traditions was supported by national and local policy. In this regard, since 1999, Ciglio is included in the Landscape Plan “Ischia Island” [55] having the double aim of blocking the processes of degradation and to develop the enormous urban, landscape and environmental heritage, already present. Inhabitants, sensible to the traditional value of the local heritage, have a primary role in preserving the characteristics of the original landscape in combination with a concrete sense of innovation and renewal. In this perspective, the results of the study ensure workers, tourists and the local community of Ciglio can be fully experienced in health-safety if the radioprotection isn’t neglected.

6. Conclusions

For the first time the sustainability concept has been evaluated in relation to the radioprotection issue in the peculiar area of Ciglio village, on Ischia Island.
The radon concentration was measured in two typical rural buildings and in water samples collected from an ancient waterfall. When mandatory, the evaluation of mean effective dose per year was calculated for workers in accordance with the national radiation protection legislation. The emanation coefficient of green tuff was also carried out.
The obtained values of the radon activity concentration measurements resulted below the limits stated by the radiation protection legislation (300 Bq/m3) except in one room of the church where the individual occupancy time is such that the mean annual effective dose is within the reference value of 3 mSv/year. Consequently, according to national regulation, no remedial action is necessary in order to reduce the radon activity concentration in the analyzed environments.
Although in the analyzed samples (indoor air, water and green tuff) the radiological parameters resulted to be safe, study highlighted the need to evaluate the impact of radon gas on individual radiation exposure. The high radon activity concentration found in the dwellings 210 ± 20 Bq/m3, much higher than the national mean value raises the issue of the radiation exposure of general people in homes. The calculation of the emanation coefficient of typical stones marks the importance to assess the relation between the building materials and geological structures on radon activity concentration in order to implement the sustainable planning of social and economic activities in the Ciglio rural area. This study presents a perspective in which the valorization of rural landscape, involving both natural and cultural dimensions, also includes the radioprotection concept, which is essential to guarantee occupational safety.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, G.L.V. and M.P.; data curation, G.L.V. and V.D.; formal analysis, G.L.V. and V.D.; methodology, G.L.V., V.D., V.R. and M.P.; project administration, M.P.; resources, M.P.; software, A.R.; supervision, M.P.; visualization, M.P., G.L.V., V.D., A.R., C.S., F.A., V.R.; writing—original draft preparation, V.D. and G.L.V.; writing—review & editing, G.L.V., V.D., C.S., F.A., V.R., A.R. and M.P. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Battino, S.; Lampreu, S. The Role of the Sharing Economy for a Sustainable and Innovative Development of Rural Areas: A Case Study in Sardinia (Italy). Sustainability 2019, 11, 3004. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  2. Benni, S.; Carfagna, E.; Torreggiani, D.; Maino, E.; Bovo, M.; Tassinari, P. Multidimensional Measurement of the Level of Consistency of Farm Buildings with Rural Heritage: A Methodology Tested on an Italian Case Study. Sustainability 2019, 11, 4242. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  3. Bryant, M.; Allan, P.; Kebbel, S. A Settlers’ Guide: Designing for Resilience in the Hinterlands. Buildings 2017, 7, 23. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  4. Pitts, A. Establishing Priorities for Sustainable Environmental Design in the Rural Villages of Yunnan, China. Buildings 2016, 6, 32. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  5. Ragheb, A.; El-Shimy, H.; Ragheb, G. Green architecture: A concept of sustainability. Procedia-Soc. Behav. Sci. 2016, 216, 778–787. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  6. Cattaneo, T.; Giorgi, M.; Ni, M.; Manzoni, G.D. Sustainable Development of Rural Areas in the EU and China: A Common Strategy for Architectural Design, Research Practice and Decision-Making. Buildings 2016, 6, 42. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  7. Palliyaguru, R.; Karunasena, G.; Ang, S. Review on Sustainable Building Design and Construction in the Rural Context: The Case of Building Ampara, Sri Lanka. In Sustainable Development Research in the Asia-Pacific Region. World Sustainability Series; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2018; pp. 493–507. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Picuno, P. Use of traditional material in farm buildings for a sustainable rural environment. Int. J. Sustain. Built Environ. 2016, 5, 451–460. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  9. Usta, P.; Arıcı, A.; Evci, A.; Kepenek, E. Sustainability of traditional buildings located in rural area. Period. Eng. Nat. Sci. 2017, 5, 231–236. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Berardi, U. Clarifying the new interpretations of the concept of sustainable building. Sustain. Cities Soc. 2013, 8, 72–78. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Mateus, R.; Bragança, L. Sustainability assessment and rating of buildings: Developing the methodology SBToolPT-H. Build. Environ. 2011, 46. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Agnoletti, M.; Emanueli, F.; Corrieri, F.; Venturi, M.; Santoro, A. Monitoring Traditional Rural Landscapes. The Case of Italy. Sustainability 2019, 11, 6107. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  13. Di Fazio, S.; Modica, G. Historic Rural Landscapes: Sustainable Planning Strategies and Action Criteria. The Italian Experience in the Global and European Context. Sustainibility 2018, 10, 3834. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  14. Picuno, C.A.; Laković, I.; Roubis, D.; Picuno, P.; Kapetanović, A. Analysis of the Characteristics of Traditional Rural Constructions for Animal Corrals in the Adriatic-Ionian Area. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1441. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  15. Treu, M.C.; Magoni, M.F.; Steiner, F.; Palazzo, D. Sustainable landscape planning for Cremona, Italy. Landsc. Urban Plan. 2000, 47, 79–98. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Torreggiani, D.; Tassinari, P. Landscape quality of farm buildings: The evolution of the design approach in Italy. J. Cult. Herit. 2012, 13, 59–68. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  17. Garau, C. Perspectives on Cultural and Sustainable Rural Tourism in a Smart Region: The Case Study of Marmilla in Sardinia (Italy). Sustainability 2015, 7, 6412–6434. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  18. European Network for Rural Development. Project Brochure “Smart and Competitive Rural Areas”, Luxembourg, Ufficio di Pubblicazioni dell’Unione Europea. Available online: (accessed on 27 August 2020).
  19. Kelliher, F.; Reinl, L.; Johnson, T.G.; Joppe, M. The role of trust in building rural tourism micro firm network engagement: A multi-case study. Tour. Manag. 2018, 68, 1–12. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Porto, S.M.C.; Leanza, P.; Cascone, G. Developing Interpretation Plans to Promote Traditional Rural Buildings as Built Heritage Attractions. Int. J. Tour. Res. 2012, 14, 421–436. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Santucci, F.M. Agritourism for Rural Development in Italy, Evolution, Situation and Perspectives. Br. J. Econ. Manag. Trade 2013, 3, 186–200. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  22. Gillot, P.-Y.; Chiesa, S.; Pasquaré, G.; Vezzoli, L. <33,000-yr K–Ar dating of the volcano–tectonic horst of the Isle of Ischia, Gulf of Naples. Nature 1982, 299, 242–245. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  23. Altaner, S.; Demosthenous, C.; Pozzuoli, A.; Rolandi, G. Alteration history of Mount Epomeo Green Tuff and a related polymictic breccia, Ischia Island, Italy: Evidence for debris avalanche. Bull. Volcanol. 2013, 75. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  24. Decreto Legislativo n. 241 del 26 Maggio 2000, Attuazione Della Direttiva 96/29/EURATOM in Materia di Protezione Sanitaria Della Popolazione e dei Lavoratori Contro i Rischi Derivanti Dalle Radiazioni Ionizzanti; Gazz. Uff n. 203: Roma, Italy, 2000.
  25. European Council. European Council Directive 2013/59/Euratom on basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation and repealing Directives 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom and 2003/122/Euratom. OJ EU 2014, 13, 1–73. [Google Scholar]
  26. Durante, M.; Grossi, G.F.; Napolitano, M.; Pugliese, M.; Gialanella, G. Chromosome-Damage Induced by High-Let Alpha-Particles in Plateau-Phase C3h 10t1/2 Cells. Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 1992, 62, 571–580. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  27. International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). Man-made Mineral Fibres and Radon. In IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans; IARC: Lyon, France, 1988; Volume 43, pp. 1–300. [Google Scholar]
  28. World Heath Organization (WHO). WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon: A Public Health Perspective. In WHO Guidelines Approved by the Guidelines Review Committee; World Health Organization: Geneva, Switzerland, 2009. [Google Scholar]
  29. International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). Protection of the public in situations of prolonged radiation exposure. The application of the Commission’s system of radiological protection to controllable radiation exposure due to natural sources and long-lived radioactive residues. Ann. ICRP 1999, 29, 1–109. [Google Scholar]
  30. United Nations. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation: United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation: UNSCEAR 2000 Report to the General Assembly, with Scientific Annexes; United Nations: New York, NY, USA, 2000. [Google Scholar]
  31. La Verde, G.; Raulo, A.; D’Avino, V.; Roca, V.; Pugliese, M. Radioactivity content in natural stones used as building materials in Puglia region analysed by high resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy: Preliminary results. Constr. Build. Mater. 2020, 239. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  32. Decreto Legislativo 15 Febbraio 2016, n. 28. Attuazione Della Direttiva 2013/51/EURATOM del Consiglio, del 22 Ottobre 2013, che Stabilisce Requisiti per la Tutela Della Salute Della Popolazione Relativamente Alle Sostanze Radioattive Presenti Nelle Acque Destinate al Consumo Umano; Gazz. Uff n. 55: Roma, Italy, 2016.
  33. Bochicchio, F.; Campos-Venuti, G.; Piermattei, S.; Nuccetelli, C.; Risica, S.; Tommasino, L.; Torri, G.; Magnoni, M.; Agnesod, G.; Sgorbati, G.; et al. Annual average and seasonal variations of residential radon concentration for all the Italian Regions. Radiat. Meas. 2005, 40, 686–694. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  34. Pugliese, M.; Quarto, M.; Loffredo, F.; Mazzella, A.; Roca, V. Indoor Radon Concentrations in Dwellings of Ischia Island. J. Environ. Prot. 2013, 4, 37–39. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  35. Rossetti, M.; Esposito, M. Radon levels in underground workplaces: A map of the Italian regions. Radiat. Prot. Dosim. 2014, 164, 392–397. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  36. Pugliese, M.; Quarto, M.; De Cicco, F.; De Sterlich, C.; Roca, V. Radon Exposure Assessment for Sewerage System’s Workers in Naples, South Italy. Indoor Built Environ. 2013, 22, 575–579. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  37. Azara, A.; Dettori, M.; Castiglia, P.; Piana, A.; Durando, P.; Parodi, V.; Salis, G.; Saderi, L.; Sotgiu, G. Indoor Radon Exposure in Italian Schools. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 749. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  38. Gaidolfi, L.; Malisan, M.R.; Bucci, S.; Cappai, M.; Bonomi, M.; Verdi, L.; Bochicchio, F. Radon measurements in kindergartens and schools of six italian regions. Radiat. Prot. Dosim. 1998, 78, 73–76. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. Giovani, C.; Cappelletto, C.; Garavaglia, M.; Scruzzi, E.; Peressini, G.; Villalta, R. Radon survey in schools in north-east Italy. Radiat. Prot. Dosim. 2001, 97, 341–344. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  40. Venoso, G.; De Cicco, F.; Flores, B.; Gialanella, L.; Pugliese, M.; Roca, V.; Sabbarese, C. Radon concentrations in schools of the Neapolitan area. Radiat. Meas. 2009, 44, 127–130. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  41. Pugliese, M.; Quarto, M.; Roca, V. Radon concentrations in air and water in the thermal spas of Ischia Island. Indoor Built Environ. 2013, 23, 823–827. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  42. Kotrappa, P. E-Perm Electret Ion Chambers for Measuring Radon in Water. In E-Perm System Training Manual; Rad Elec Inc.: Frederick, MD, USA, 1998. [Google Scholar]
  43. Kotrappa, P.; Dempsey, J.C.; Hickey, J.R.; Stieff, L.R. An electret passive environmental 222Rn monitor based on ionization measurement. Health Phys. 1988, 54, 47–56. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  44. Kotrappa, P.; Dempsey, J.C.; Ramsey, R.W.; Stief, L.R. A practical E-PERM (Electret Passive Environmental Radon Monitor) System for Indoor 222Rn Measurement. Health Phys. 1990, 58, 461–467. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  45. Kotrappa, P.; Jester, W.A. Electret ion chamber radon monitors measure dissolved 222Rn in water. Health Phys. 1993, 64, 397–405. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  46. La Verde, G.; Roca, V.; Pugliese, M. Quality assurance in planning a radon measurement survey using PDCA cycle approach: What improvements? Int. J. Metrol. Qual. Eng. 2019, 10, 1–6. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  47. La Verde, G.; Roca, V.; Sabbarese, C.; Ambrosino, F.; Pugliese, M. The equilibrium factor in the radon dose calculation in the archaeological site of Acquedotto Augusteo del Serino in Naples. NcimC 2018, 41, 6. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  48. Decreto Legislativo n. 101 del 31 Luglio 2020, Attuazione Della Direttiva 2013/59/Euratom, che Stabilisce Norme Fondamentali di Sicurezza Relative Alla Protezione Contro i Pericoli Derivanti Dall’esposizione Alle Radiazioni Ionizzanti, e che Abroga le Direttive 89/618/Euratom, 90/641/Euratom, 96/29/Euratom, 97/43/Euratom e 2003/122/Euratom e riordino Della Normativa di Settore in Attuazione dell’articolo 20, Comma 1, Lettera A), Della Legge 4 Ottobre 2019; n. 117; Gazz. Uff n. 201: Roma, Italy, 2020.
  49. Quarto, M.; Pugliese, M.; Loffredo, F.; Roca, V. Indoor Radon Concentration Measurements in Some Dwellings of the Penisola Sorrentina, South Italy. Radiat. Prot. Dosim. 2013, 156, 207–212. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  50. D’Avino, V.; Pugliese, M.; La Verde, G. Effectiveness of passive ventilation on radon indoor level in Puglia Region according to European Directive 2013/59/EURATOM. Indoor Built Environ. 2020. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  51. Roca, V.; Pugliese, M.; Sabbarese, C.; D‘Onofrio, A.; Lubritto, C.; Terrasi, F.; Ermice, A.; Inglima, I.; Migliore, G. Natural radioactivity of building materials coming from a volcanic region. In Proceedings of the European Conference on Protection Against Radon at Home and at Work, Prague, Czech Republic, 28 June–2 July 2004; pp. 348–354. [Google Scholar]
  52. Nuccetelli, C.; Risica, S.; Onisei, S.; Leonardi, F.; Trevisi, R. Natural Radioactivity in Building Materials in the European Union: A Database of Activity Concentrations, Radon Emanations and Radon Exhalation Rates: Rapporti ISTISAN 17/36; Istituto Superiore di Sanità: Roma, Italy, 2017. [Google Scholar]
  53. Maggiore, G.; De Filippis, G.; Totaro, T.; Tamborino, B.; Idolo, A.; Serio, F.; Castorini, I.F.; Valenzano, B.; Riccio, A.; Miani, A.; et al. Evaluation of radon exposure risk and lung cancer incidence/mortality in South-eastern Italy. J. Prev. Med. Hyg. 2020, 61, E31–E38. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  54. Ferri, G.M.; Intranuovo, G.; Cavone, D.; Corrado, V.; Birtolo, F.; Tricase, P.; Fuso, R.; Vilardi, V.; Sumerano, M.; L‘Abbate, N.; et al. Estimates of the Lung Cancer Cases Attributable to Radon in Municipalities of Two Apulia Provinces (Italy) and Assessment of Main Exposure Determinants. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 1294. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Green Version]
  55. Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. Approvazione del Piano Territoriale Paesistico Isola d’Ischia; Gazz. Uff n. 94: Roma, Italy, 1999. [Google Scholar]
Figure 1. Picture of San Ciro church (a) and dwelling (b).
Figure 1. Picture of San Ciro church (a) and dwelling (b).
Sustainability 12 08374 g001
Figure 2. Picture of the electrometer (Rad. Elec. Inc. Mod. 6383-01, Frederick, MD, USA) and one Long (on the left) and one Short (on the right) electret passive environmental radon monitor (E-Perm) chamber.
Figure 2. Picture of the electrometer (Rad. Elec. Inc. Mod. 6383-01, Frederick, MD, USA) and one Long (on the left) and one Short (on the right) electret passive environmental radon monitor (E-Perm) chamber.
Sustainability 12 08374 g002
Figure 3. Exposure scheme of the E-Perm devices (marked with a numbered black spot) in San Ciro church (a) and dwelling (b).
Figure 3. Exposure scheme of the E-Perm devices (marked with a numbered black spot) in San Ciro church (a) and dwelling (b).
Sustainability 12 08374 g003
Figure 4. Picture of the jar containing the 140 mL bottle and the opened-suspended E-Perm chamber.
Figure 4. Picture of the jar containing the 140 mL bottle and the opened-suspended E-Perm chamber.
Sustainability 12 08374 g004
Figure 5. Pictures of the system for emanation coefficient measurement: (a) electrostatic collection chamber of alpha detector and box with the sample (diameter = 8 cm, high = 2.5 cm); (b) coaxial High Purity 129 Germanium (HPGe ORTEC®) detector, model GMX-45P4ST.
Figure 5. Pictures of the system for emanation coefficient measurement: (a) electrostatic collection chamber of alpha detector and box with the sample (diameter = 8 cm, high = 2.5 cm); (b) coaxial High Purity 129 Germanium (HPGe ORTEC®) detector, model GMX-45P4ST.
Sustainability 12 08374 g005
Table 1. Radon concentration in air for each measurement point in the church and dwelling.
Table 1. Radon concentration in air for each measurement point in the church and dwelling.
Measurement PointActivity Radon Concentration (Bq/m3)
#1210 ± 20210 ± 20
#2120 ± 20
#3540 ± 40

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

La Verde, G.; D’Avino, V.; Sabbarese, C.; Ambrosino, F.; Roca, V.; Raulo, A.; Pugliese, M. Radiation Protection Legislation and Sustainable Development of a Rural Green Tuff Village of Ischia Island. Sustainability 2020, 12, 8374.

AMA Style

La Verde G, D’Avino V, Sabbarese C, Ambrosino F, Roca V, Raulo A, Pugliese M. Radiation Protection Legislation and Sustainable Development of a Rural Green Tuff Village of Ischia Island. Sustainability. 2020; 12(20):8374.

Chicago/Turabian Style

La Verde, Giuseppe, Vittoria D’Avino, Carlo Sabbarese, Fabrizio Ambrosino, Vincenzo Roca, Adelaide Raulo, and Mariagabriella Pugliese. 2020. "Radiation Protection Legislation and Sustainable Development of a Rural Green Tuff Village of Ischia Island" Sustainability 12, no. 20: 8374.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop