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Radon dosimetry

Professor Janja Vaupotič

IPS Lecture Hall, December 1, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Radon is a radioactive noble gas, originating in the earth’s crust from α-transformations of radium, a member in the thorium, uranium and actinium radioactive chains. Because these elements are present in the majority of minerals, though at low levels mostly, radon is also to be found everywhere in our environment: in soil gas, water and air, always accompanied by its short-lived radioactive products. Breathing air with radon and its products has been recognised as contributing about half of the effective dose a member of the general public receives from all natural radioactivity, and present a major cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking.
Monitoring radon in the air of a living and working environment is only the first step to assess exposure to radon and keep it satisfactorily low. It should be followed by a reliable dosimetry, which is a prerequisite to reveal the related health detrimental effect. Radon dosimetry is peculiar because it deals with radon as a gas and its products as nano-aerosol particles.

In the lecture, the main steps in radon dosimetry from a measured radon concentration to the resulting effective dose, will be presented and discussed. The key parameters used as input in dose calculation will be explained, with emphasis on the secular equilibrium between radon and its short-lived products, and a fraction of unattached radon products, governed by the concentration and size distribution of nano particles.