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Special Issue "Radon Risk and Metrology"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Miroslaw Janik
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST), Center for Advanced Radiation Medicine, 263-8555 Chiba, Japan
Interests: radon; thoron; alpha spectrometry; machine learning; quality assurance; radiation protection
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on the impact of radon risk and metrology in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed scientific open access journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health.

We are “bathing” in radiation and it is an integral part of our environment. All living beings exposed to a flux of natural radiation that is the major source of human non-medical exposure to ionizing radiation. The UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) estimated that the annual dose for the population due to natural sources of radiation to be 2.4 mSv (millisieverts).

The most variable component of the population dose is exposure to naturally occurring radon gas and its progeny, which account for more than 50% of the total effective dose received from all sources of natural radiation. The latest epidemiological studies suggest that exposure to radon leads to an increased risk of lung cancer. To reduce the exposure of people to radon, an integrated radon control strategy or plan on a national scale is required.

Therefore, in January 2014, the Council of the European Union issued the new Directive EURATOM Basic Safety Standards (EU-BSS). This document aims to offer better protection for people in workplaces and in dwellings. Moreover, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) also made recommendations for the protection of people against exposure to radon at home and at work.

Generally speaking, exposure to radon should be avoided, however radioactive radon is sometimes used as an alternative to conventional biomedical treatment, for pain relief, symptomatic arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

The aim of this Special Issue is to report on the results of efforts that need to be made to reduce radon levels in residential and public places, both from a theoretical and technical point of view and covers the subject areas listed below.

Dr. Miroslaw Janik
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Radon risk and communication strategies
  • Radon legislation and regulations
  • National action plans
  • Radon guidelines
  • Radon reduction and mitigation
  • The benefits of radon
  • Low radiation
  • Dose-response
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Radon metrology
  • QA/QC plan for radon measurement

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Indoor Radon Measurements Using Radon Track Detectors and Electret Ionization Chambers in the Bauxite-Bearing Areas of Southern Adamawa, Cameroon
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6776; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186776 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
The current work deals with indoor radon (222Rn) concentrations and ambient dose-equivalent rate measurements in the bauxite-bearing areas of the Adamawa region in Cameroon before mining from 2022. In total, 90 Electret Ionization Chambers (EIC) (commercially, EPERM) and 175 Radon Track [...] Read more.
The current work deals with indoor radon (222Rn) concentrations and ambient dose-equivalent rate measurements in the bauxite-bearing areas of the Adamawa region in Cameroon before mining from 2022. In total, 90 Electret Ionization Chambers (EIC) (commercially, EPERM) and 175 Radon Track Detectors (commercially, RADTRAK2) were used to measure 222Rn concentrations in dwellings of four localities of the above region. A pocket survey meter (RadEye PRD-ER, Thermo Scientific, Waltham, MA, USA) was used for the ambient dose-equivalent rate measurements. These measurements were followed by calculations of annual doses from inhalation and external exposure. 222Rn concentrations were found to vary between 36 ± 8–687 ± 35 Bq m−3 with a geometric mean (GM) of 175 ± 16 Bq m−3 and 43 ± 12–270 ± 40 Bq m−3 with a geometric mean of 101 ± 21 Bq m−3 by using EPERM and RADTRAK, respectively. According to RADTRAK data, 51% of dwellings have radon concentrations above the reference level of 100 Bq m−3 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The ambient dose equivalent rate ranged between 0.04–0.17 µSv h−1 with the average value of 0.08 µSv h−1. The inhalation dose and annual external effective dose to the public were assessed and found to vary between 0.8–5 mSv with an average value of 2 mSv and 0.3–1.8 mSv with an average value of 0.7 mSv, respectively. Most of the average values in terms of concentration and radiation dose were found to be above the corresponding world averages given by the United Nations Scientific Commission on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). Even though the current exposure of members of the public to natural radiation is not critical, the situation could change abruptly when mining starts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Article
An Investigation into Indoor Radon Concentrations in Certified Passive House Homes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 4149; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114149 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1779
Abstract
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) has introduced the concept of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) specifying that by 31 December 2020 all new buildings must meet the nearly zero- energy standard, the Passive House standard has emerged as a key enabler [...] Read more.
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) has introduced the concept of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) specifying that by 31 December 2020 all new buildings must meet the nearly zero- energy standard, the Passive House standard has emerged as a key enabler for the Nearly Zero Energy Building standard. The combination of Passive House with renewables represents a suitable solution to move to low/zero carbon. The hypothesis in this study is that a certified passive house building with high levels of airtightness with a balanced mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) should yield lower indoor radon concentrations. This article presents results and analysis of measured radon levels in a total of 97 certified passive house dwellings using CR-393 alpha track diffusion radon gas detectors. The results support the hypothesis that certified passive house buildings present lower radon levels. A striking observation to emerge from the data shows a difference in radon distribution between upstairs and downstairs when compared against regular housing. The study is a first for Ireland and the United Kingdom and it has relevance to a much wider context with the significant growth of the passive house standard globally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Article
Impact of Wind Speed on Response of Diffusion-Type Radon-Thoron Detectors to Thoron
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3178; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093178 - 02 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1551
Abstract
Air exchange through a porous medium depends partly on a pressure gradient induced in it, i.e., air-flow conditions of the outer air. Consequently, response of diffusion-type detectors to radon and thoron may vary with air-flow conditions surrounding the detectors. This effect may be [...] Read more.
Air exchange through a porous medium depends partly on a pressure gradient induced in it, i.e., air-flow conditions of the outer air. Consequently, response of diffusion-type detectors to radon and thoron may vary with air-flow conditions surrounding the detectors. This effect may be significant for thoron measurement because thoron has a shorter half-life than radon. The present study examined response of diffusion-type detectors (RADUETs and one AlphaGUARD) to thoron with respect to wind speed using a thoron calibration chamber. Response of RADUETs to thoron increased with wind speed. Response of the AlphaGUARD increased with wind speed, but it became constant at a high wind speed. Different response trends to thoron between the RADUETs and the AlphaGUARD could be qualitatively explained by flow states induced by the pressure gradient in the filter or the sponge of these detectors. For RADUETs, laminar (Darcy) flow was induced in the sponge in the examined wind speed range, which meant that thoron entry into the detector increased with wind speed. For the AlphaGUARD, laminar flow was induced in the filter in the low wind speed range, whereas flow was changed to turbulent (non-Darcy) flow at a high wind speed for which thoron entry into the detector did not depend on wind speed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Article
Equipment for Testing Measuring Devices at a Low-Level Radon Activity Concentration
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1904; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061904 - 15 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 951
Abstract
The National Institute for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection, under the European project 16ENV10 MetroRADON (the European metrology program for innovation and research, EMPIR), has developed unique equipment for the testing of measuring devices at low-level radon activity concentrations. The equipment consists particularly [...] Read more.
The National Institute for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection, under the European project 16ENV10 MetroRADON (the European metrology program for innovation and research, EMPIR), has developed unique equipment for the testing of measuring devices at low-level radon activity concentrations. The equipment consists particularly of an airtight low-level radon chamber (LLRCH) with an inner volume of 324 liters; a Rn-222 type RF 5 flow-through source with a Ra-226 activity of 4.955 kBq developed by Czech Metrological Institute within the above-mentioned project; and a pressure vessel as a radon-free air source. The mass flow controller of the Bronkhorst EL-Flow type is a part of the apparatus and ensures the requested airflow through the radon source—partialized if necessary—through the chamber. The homogeneity of the atmosphere in the chamber is ensured by means of a continuously regulated fan (airflows in the range of 0.1–3.5 m·s−1 can be established). Another important chamber component is the measuring device of climatic conditions, since temperature, air pressure, and relative humidity must be determined. The construction of the equipment allows the time-stable radon activity concentration to be maintained at a precise level for several days. Radon concentration values can be arbitrarily and continuously set in the range from 100 Bq·m−3 to 300 Bq·m−3. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Article
Variable Strength in Thoron Interference for a Diffusion-Type Radon Monitor Depending on Ventilation of the Outer Air
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 974; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030974 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1172
Abstract
Thoron interference in radon measurements using passive diffusion radon detectors/monitors is a crucial problem when it comes to assessing the internal exposure to radon precisely. The present study reported, as one of the potential factors, the effects of air flow conditions on changes [...] Read more.
Thoron interference in radon measurements using passive diffusion radon detectors/monitors is a crucial problem when it comes to assessing the internal exposure to radon precisely. The present study reported, as one of the potential factors, the effects of air flow conditions on changes in thoron interference. Rates of thoron infiltration (as thoron interference) into the diffusion chamber of the monitor were evaluated. The temporal variation was obtained based on measurements of the underfloor space of a Japanese wooden dwelling using a diffusion-type radon monitor, a reference radon monitor which was not affected by thoron interference, and a thoron monitor. The thoron infiltration rate for the diffusion-type monitor varied from 0% to 20%. In particular, it appeared to increase when ventilation of the underfloor space air was forced. The variable thoron infiltration rate, with respect to ventilation strength, implied that not only a diffusive process, but also an advective process, played a major role in air exchange between the diffusion chamber of the monitor and the outer air. When an exposure room is characterized by the frequent variation in air ventilation, a variable thoron response is considered to occur in radon–thoron discriminative detectors, in which only diffusive entry is employed as a mechanism for the discrimination of radon and thoron. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Article
Comparison of Radon and Thoron Concentration Measuring Systems Among Asian Countries
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 5019; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245019 - 10 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1114
Abstract
Comparison is an important role in the quality control and quality assurance for any measuring system. Due to the future legal regulations regarding radon levels in the air, maintaining the system quality and harmonization of results as well as validation of radon and [...] Read more.
Comparison is an important role in the quality control and quality assurance for any measuring system. Due to the future legal regulations regarding radon levels in the air, maintaining the system quality and harmonization of results as well as validation of radon and thoron measuring systems is important. The aim of this work is to validate the degrees of equivalence and measurement precisions of the existing five radon and four thoron measuring systems located in four Asian countries (China, India, Japan and Thailand) through comparison experiment. In this project, comparison experiment was performed in order to derive the ratio between assigned value obtained from one transfer measurement device for radon and one transfer measurement device for thoron belongs to National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology and participants’ value from their measuring instrument. As a result, the ratio value associated with measurement uncertainty was derived for each activity concentration. Finally, measurement bias and degrees of equivalence between the assigned values and values of measurement quantity from participants’ measuring instruments were statistically analysed and presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Article
Partition Coefficients and Diffusion Lengths of 222Rn in Some Polymers at Different Temperatures
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4523; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224523 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 902
Abstract
In this work, the partition coefficients K and diffusion lengths LD of radon in some polymers are experimentally determined for several temperatures in the range T = 5–31 °C. Some of the obtained values are compared to published data available for the [...] Read more.
In this work, the partition coefficients K and diffusion lengths L D of radon in some polymers are experimentally determined for several temperatures in the range T = 5–31 °C. Some of the obtained values are compared to published data available for the given temperatures. It is shown that the temperature dependencies of the partition coefficients K ( T ) , the diffusion lengths L D ( T ) , and the permeabilities P ( T ) could be described analytically for the studied temperature range 5–31 °C. This allows estimation of these quantities in the given temperature range and quantitative description of the transport of radon in the studied polymers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Article
Testing and Calibration of CDs as Radon Detectors at Highly Variable Radon Concentrations and Temperatures
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3038; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173038 - 22 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1259
Abstract
The application of the compact disk (CD) method for radon measurements at mines, caves and other workplaces needs testing under highly variable exposure conditions. We present the results from a blind comparison of CDs exposed in the Laboratory of Natural Radiation (Saelices el [...] Read more.
The application of the compact disk (CD) method for radon measurements at mines, caves and other workplaces needs testing under highly variable exposure conditions. We present the results from a blind comparison of CDs exposed in the Laboratory of Natural Radiation (Saelices el Chico, Spain). During the exposure the temperature varied from 6.5 to 24.9 °C (average 12.6 °C) and the 222Rn activity concentrations varied from <10 Bq m−3 to 147 kBq m−3. Good correspondence was observed between the integrated 222Rn activity concentration determined by the reference instruments in the laboratory (122,500 ± 6100 kBq h m−3) and that assessed by analysis of the CDs at a depth 80 µm beneath the front surface (118,000 ± 12,000 kBq h m−3) and at a depth of 120 µm (106,000 ± 12,000 kBq h m−3). The theoretical modeling of the CD response under variable temperature and radon concentration suggested that the small bias is probably due to the time variation of the calibration factor because of the time variations of the temperature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Review

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Review
Importance of Discriminative Measurement for Radon Isotopes and Its Utilization in the Environment and Lessons Learned from Using the RADUET Monitor
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 4141; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114141 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1060
Abstract
Radon (222Rn) and thoron (220Rn), sources of natural background radiation, have been the subjects of long-standing studies, including research into radon and thoron as major causes of lung cancer at domestic and international levels. In this regard, radon and [...] Read more.
Radon (222Rn) and thoron (220Rn), sources of natural background radiation, have been the subjects of long-standing studies, including research into radon and thoron as major causes of lung cancer at domestic and international levels. In this regard, radon and thoron measurement studies have been widely conducted all over the world. Generally, the techniques used relate to passive nuclear track detectors. Some surveys have shown that passive monitors for radon are sensitive to thoron, and hence some measured results have probably overestimated radon concentrations. This study investigated radon and thoron measurements in domestic and international surveys using the passive radon–thoron discriminative monitor, commercially named RADUET. This paper attempts to provide an understanding of discriminative measurements of radon isotopes and to present an evidence-based roadmap. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Review
Development of a Geogenic Radon Hazard Index—Concept, History, Experiences
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 4134; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114134 - 10 Jun 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1555
Abstract
Exposure to indoor radon at home and in workplaces constitutes a serious public health risk and is the second most prevalent cause of lung cancer after tobacco smoking. Indoor radon concentration is to a large extent controlled by so-called geogenic radon, which is [...] Read more.
Exposure to indoor radon at home and in workplaces constitutes a serious public health risk and is the second most prevalent cause of lung cancer after tobacco smoking. Indoor radon concentration is to a large extent controlled by so-called geogenic radon, which is radon generated in the ground. While indoor radon has been mapped in many parts of Europe, this is not the case for its geogenic control, which has been surveyed exhaustively in only a few countries or regions. Since geogenic radon is an important predictor of indoor radon, knowing the local potential of geogenic radon can assist radon mitigation policy in allocating resources and tuning regulations to focus on where it needs to be prioritized. The contribution of geogenic to indoor radon can be quantified in different ways: the geogenic radon potential (GRP) and the geogenic radon hazard index (GRHI). Both are constructed from geogenic quantities, with their differences tending to be, but not always, their type of geographical support and optimality as indoor radon predictors. An important feature of the GRHI is consistency across borders between regions with different data availability and Rn survey policies, which has so far impeded the creation of a European map of geogenic radon. The GRHI can be understood as a generalization or extension of the GRP. In this paper, the concepts of GRP and GRHI are discussed and a review of previous GRHI approaches is presented, including methods of GRHI estimation and some preliminary results. A methodology to create GRHI maps that cover most of Europe appears at hand and appropriate; however, further fine tuning and validation remains on the agenda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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Review
Multiple Stressor Effects of Radon and Phthalates in Children: Background Information and Future Research
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2898; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082898 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1221
Abstract
The present paper reviews available background information for studying multiple stressor effects of radon (222Rn) and phthalates in children and provides insights on future directions. In realistic situations, living organisms are collectively subjected to many environmental stressors, with the resultant effects [...] Read more.
The present paper reviews available background information for studying multiple stressor effects of radon (222Rn) and phthalates in children and provides insights on future directions. In realistic situations, living organisms are collectively subjected to many environmental stressors, with the resultant effects being referred to as multiple stressor effects. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can lead to lung cancers. On the other hand, phthalates are semi-volatile organic compounds widely applied as plasticizers to provide flexibility to plastic in consumer products. Links of phthalates to various health effects have been reported, including allergy and asthma. In the present review, the focus on indoor contaminants was due to their higher concentrations and to the higher indoor occupancy factor, while the focus on the pediatric population was due to their inherent sensitivity and their spending more time close to the floor. Two main future directions in studying multiple stressor effects of radon and phthalates in children were proposed. The first one was on computational modeling and micro-dosimetric studies, and the second one was on biological studies. In particular, dose-response relationship and effect-specific models for combined exposures to radon and phthalates would be necessary. The ideas and methodology behind such proposed research work are also applicable to studies on multiple stressor effects of collective exposures to other significant airborne contaminants, and to population groups other than children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radon Risk and Metrology)
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