Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Atmospheric Techniques, Instruments, and Modeling".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 15821

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Radiation Protection and Environmental Radioactivity, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, China
Interests: radon; radon progeny; continuous measurement; variations
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Guest Editor
The National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (QST), Center for Advanced Radiation Medicine, Chiba 263-8555, Japan
Interests: radon; thoron; alpha spectrometry; machine learning; quality assurance; radiation protection
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Radon is a naturally occurring noble radioactive gas, which has been epidemiologically approved to be one of the leading causes of lung cancer for the general population. In addition, its unique physical and chemical characteristics make it an effective tracer gas in many research fields, such as atmospheric transport and mixing processes, simulation and estimation of the fluxes of greenhouse gasses. So, radon has long been a species of interest in radiological protection, air quality and climate change research communities worldwide.

The level of atmospheric radon concentration depends on local meteorological and geological conditions and always fluctuates. Consequently, for atmospheric radon concentration monitoring and measurements, techniques or instruments with high sensitivity, the capability of long-term autonomous operation and fast response time are required. Today more and more instruments satisfy the requirement due to the significant progress of detectors, electronics and data transmission technology, fortunately.

This Special Issue aims to collect recent comprehensive achievements related to all aspects of atmospheric radon and thoron research, level and variation of radon and thoron concentration, monitoring and measurement methods and techniques, models for radon applications as a tracer in atmospheric and environmental science, etc. A traceability system should also be included for measurement quality control.

We look forward to your submissions. The Special Issue will promote the development of the research field of atmospheric radon.

Prof. Dr. Qiuju Guo
Dr. Miroslaw Janik
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • atmosphere
  • radon and thoron
  • monitoring
  • measurement and calibration methods
  • quality assessment
  • application of radon as a tracer
  • NORM
  • public health
  • risk assessment

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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29 pages, 16053 KiB  
Article
Radon Variability as a Result of Interaction with the Environment
by Sergey Pulinets, Irina Mironova, Petr Miklyaev, Tatiana Petrova, Alexander Shitov and Arseniy Karagodin
Atmosphere 2024, 15(2), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos15020167 - 27 Jan 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1263
Abstract
Recent years have seen increased attention given to radon from two scientific directions. After neglecting radon as an earthquake precursor in the 1990s, it has become the subject of discussions in earthquake-forecast papers due to growing networks of radon monitoring in different countries, [...] Read more.
Recent years have seen increased attention given to radon from two scientific directions. After neglecting radon as an earthquake precursor in the 1990s, it has become the subject of discussions in earthquake-forecast papers due to growing networks of radon monitoring in different countries, particularly the technologies of real-time radon measurements where gamma spectrometers are of great interest as sources of 222Rn identification. The second fast-developing direction involves radon in Lithosphere–Atmosphere–Ionosphere Coupling (LAIC) models as a source of boundary layer ionization. Here we address the second topic, which is not connected with the earthquake forecast problems, namely, the role of air ionization by radon as a source of the Global Electric Circuit (GEC) modification. In this publication, we try to unite all of these problems to present a more complex view of radon as an important element in our environment. Special attention is paid to the dependence of radon variability on environmental conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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17 pages, 6680 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Precision of Radon Measurements from Beta-Attenuation Monitors
by Matthew L. Riley, Ningbo Jiang, Gunaratnam Gunashanhar and Scott Thompson
Atmosphere 2024, 15(1), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos15010083 - 09 Jan 2024
Viewed by 681
Abstract
Atmospheric radon measurements assist in many aspects of climate and meteorological research, notably as an airmass tracer and for modelling boundary layer development, mixing heights and stability. Daughter products from radon decay are sometimes incorporated into the particle pollution measurements of commercially available [...] Read more.
Atmospheric radon measurements assist in many aspects of climate and meteorological research, notably as an airmass tracer and for modelling boundary layer development, mixing heights and stability. Daughter products from radon decay are sometimes incorporated into the particle pollution measurements of commercially available beta-attenuation monitors (BAM). BAMs incorporating radon measurements are used in air quality monitoring networks and can supplement traditional radon measurements. Here we compare in-situ radon measurements from Thermo Fisher Scientific (Franklin, MA, USA) BAM instruments (Thermo Scientific 5014i, Thermo Scientific 5030 SHARP, Thermo Anderson FH62C14) at two air quality monitoring stations in New South Wales, Australia. Between systems we find strong correlations for hourly measurements (r = 0.97–0.99); daily means (r = 0.97–0.99); hour of the day (r = 0.84–0.98); and month (r = 0.82–0.98). The regression analysis for radon measurements between systems showed strong linear responses, although there are some variations in the slopes of the regressions. This implies that with correction BAM measurements can be comparable to standard measurement techniques, for example, from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) dual flow loop monitors. Our findings imply that BAM derived radon measurements are precise, although their accuracy varies. BAM radon measurements can support studies on boundary layer development or where radon is used as an atmospheric transport tracer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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0 pages, 13502 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Radon and Naturally Occurring Radionuclides in the Vredefort Meteorite Crater in South Africa
by Rikus Le Roux and Jacques Bezuidenhout
Atmosphere 2023, 14(12), 1826; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14121826 - 15 Dec 2023
Viewed by 818
Abstract
The concentric impact rings of the Vredefort Crater contain rocks with elevated uranium concentrations resulting from the geological signature of a meteoric impact. The decay of this uranium was estimated to lead to elevated indoor radon concentrations in the Crater, but such a [...] Read more.
The concentric impact rings of the Vredefort Crater contain rocks with elevated uranium concentrations resulting from the geological signature of a meteoric impact. The decay of this uranium was estimated to lead to elevated indoor radon concentrations in the Crater, but such a study has never been carried out. This study explores the relationship between the natural radionuclides found in the geology of the Vredefort Crater and indoor radon concentrations. This was achieved through soil sampling and radionuclide surveys conducted on three impact rings, supplemented by indoor radon measurements in dwellings found in the area. In situ measurements revealed that one impact ring had higher-than-average uranium concentrations at 50 Bq/kg. Surprisingly, the measured indoor radon levels were lower than expected (113 Bq/m3). These measurements were taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and colder months, conditions that would typically result in elevated indoor radon levels. Soil samples indicated uranium activity of 30 Bq/kg, comparable to the world average of 35 Bq/kg. However, defunct mine tunnels in the area exhibited elevated radon concentrations, averaging 364 Bq/m3. The disparity between expected and measured indoor radon levels was attributed to the composition of surficial deposits, bedrock, and architectural features of the dwellings preventing radon accumulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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22 pages, 2027 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Radiological Risks due to Indoor Radon, Thoron and Progeny, and Soil Gas Radon in Thorium-Bearing Areas of the Centre and South Regions of Cameroon
by Atangana Bingana Martin Serge, Takoukam Soh Serge Didier, Bineng Guillaume Samuel, Chutima Kranrod, Yasutaka Omori, Masahiro Hosoda, Saïdou and Shinji Tokonami
Atmosphere 2023, 14(12), 1708; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14121708 - 21 Nov 2023
Viewed by 838
Abstract
Indoor radon, thoron and thoron progeny concentrations, along with the equilibrium factor for thoron progeny and soil gas radon concentrations, have been measured to assess radiological risks in the centre and south regions of Cameroon. Indoor radon and thoron concentrations were estimated using [...] Read more.
Indoor radon, thoron and thoron progeny concentrations, along with the equilibrium factor for thoron progeny and soil gas radon concentrations, have been measured to assess radiological risks in the centre and south regions of Cameroon. Indoor radon and thoron concentrations were estimated using radon–thoron discriminative detectors (RADUET), while thoron progeny monitors measured the equilibrium equivalent thoron concentration (EETC). Radon concentrations in the soil were determined using a MARKUS 10 detector. It was found that radon, thoron and thoron progeny concentrations range between 19 and 62 Bq m−3, 10 and 394 Bq m−3 and 0.05 and 21.8 Bq m−3, with geometric means of 32 Bq m−3, 98 Bq m−3 and 4.9 Bq m−3, respectively. The thoron equilibrium factor ranges between 0.007 and 0.24, with an arithmetic mean of 0.06 ± 0.03; this is higher than the world average value of 0.02 provided by the United Nations Scientific Commission on the Effects of Atomic Radiation(UNSCEAR, New York, USA). The level of the soil radon concentration ranges from 4.8 to 57.3 kBq m−3, with a geometric mean of 12.1 kBq m−3 at a depth of 0.7 m. Of the sampling points, 66% fall within normal radon risk areas, and 3% of the sampling areas are high radon risk areas exceeding 50 kBq m−3. The annual effective dose was found to be 0.03 ± 0.01 mSv for radon, 0.08 ± 0.05 mSv for thoron, 0.63 ± 0.12 mSv for radon progeny and 1.40 ± 0.84 mSv for thoron progeny. The total dose is estimated to be 2.14 mSv y−1. The mean estimated indoor excess lifetime cancer risk values due to radon, thoron, radon progeny and thoron progeny are 0.12 × 10−3, 0.31 × 10−3, 2.51 × 10−3 and 5.58 × 10−3, respectively. Thoron progeny contributed 60% to the effective dose. Thus, thoron progeny cannot be neglected in dose assessments, in order to avoid biased results in radio-epidemiological studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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16 pages, 2796 KiB  
Article
Characteristics of Indoor and Soil Gas Radon, and Discussion on High Radon Potential in Urumqi, Xinjiang, NW China
by Nanping Wang, Jingming Yang, Haochen Wang, Binlin Jia and Aimin Peng
Atmosphere 2023, 14(10), 1548; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14101548 - 11 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 865
Abstract
Urumqi City, located in the northwest of China, is a city with a high indoor radon concentration in a nationwide indoor radon survey in China. This study focuses on the assessment of the indoor radon level and its distribution in this city. Indoor [...] Read more.
Urumqi City, located in the northwest of China, is a city with a high indoor radon concentration in a nationwide indoor radon survey in China. This study focuses on the assessment of the indoor radon level and its distribution in this city. Indoor radon measurement using RAD7 and solid nuclear track detector (SSNTD), soil gas radon measured by RAD7, and the determination of the specific activity of uranium and radium in soil samples by a high pure germanium spectrometer were performed from 2021 to 2023. The results reveal a wide range of indoor radon concentrations in Urumqi, with anomalies above 400 Bq/m3 in some dwellings. The arithmetical and geometric mean values of indoor radon concentration are 80 ± 77 Bq/m3 and 58 Bq/m3, respectively. The geometric mean value of radon measured by SSNTD is 101 Bq/m3. The distribution of areas with a high indoor radon concentration is spatially consistent with deep and large active faults or overlapping and intersection zones of multiple groups of faults. It is recommended to conduct a more comprehensive investigation and research into the elevated radon potential and radioactivity associated with building materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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20 pages, 7909 KiB  
Article
210Pb Deposition Distribution in the Northern Hemisphere Based on a Long-Range Atmospheric Transport and Deposition Model Calculation
by Yu Cai, Hiromi Yamazawa and Takeshi Iimoto
Atmosphere 2023, 14(9), 1329; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14091329 - 23 Aug 2023
Viewed by 973
Abstract
This study delves into the long-term atmospheric transport and deposition of 210Pb in the Northern Hemisphere by using the atmospheric transport model HIRAT. The calculation for the four-year (2012–2015) period showed an average deposition flux of 13.0 Bq m−2 month−1 [...] Read more.
This study delves into the long-term atmospheric transport and deposition of 210Pb in the Northern Hemisphere by using the atmospheric transport model HIRAT. The calculation for the four-year (2012–2015) period showed an average deposition flux of 13.0 Bq m−2 month−1 with significant seasonal variations characterized by higher deposition rates during summer and lower during winter. High deposition was found in the Northern Bay of Bengal and Bangladesh regions, Southern China, the Western Philippine Sea, the Eastern Japan Sea, the Northwestern Pacific region, the Eastern and Western coasts of North America, the Caribbean Sea, the Eastern Pacific region off of Central America, the Central Atlantic region between Central America and Africa, and the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Deposition patterns varied across latitudinal zones, with tropical areas experiencing the highest deposition and polar/subpolar zones the lowest. This study emphasized the impact of monsoons on the significantly large 210Pb deposition in the Japan Sea region. Furthermore, this study showed that the lower troposphere (0 to 3 km) dominates with about 53%, and the middle troposphere (3 to 6 km) and upper troposphere (above 6 km) also contribute significantly to the total 210Pb inventory with 37% and 10%, respectively. These findings provide essential insights into the characteristics of atmospheric transport and deposition of 210Pb, and their mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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15 pages, 1606 KiB  
Article
Weather Impacts on Indoor Radon Short-Term Measurements in Switzerland
by Joan F. Rey, Stéphane Goyette and Joëlle Goyette Pernot
Atmosphere 2023, 14(7), 1163; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14071163 - 18 Jul 2023
Viewed by 962
Abstract
Radon is a natural and radioactively well-known carcinogenic indoor air pollutant. Since 2020, a radon short-term proactive methodology has been proposed by Swiss authorities, which aims to evaluate the probability of overpassing the national reference value. This study aims to assess the influence [...] Read more.
Radon is a natural and radioactively well-known carcinogenic indoor air pollutant. Since 2020, a radon short-term proactive methodology has been proposed by Swiss authorities, which aims to evaluate the probability of overpassing the national reference value. This study aims to assess the influence of different weather parameters on indoor radon levels monitored using this methodology. To this end, different statistical tools are used, such as correlations, auto-correlations, cross-correlations, and multiple linear regressions between meteorological parameters and indoor radon levels. We show a strong influence of weather conditions on indoor radon levels in occupied, but especially unoccupied spaces. Outdoor air temperature, followed by atmospheric pressure, was identified as the most significant parameter impacting indoor radon levels. Moreover, meteorological conditions monitored five days prior to the beginning of the radon measurements might affect radon levels. We come to the conclusion that it is of paramount importance to take these meteorological conditions into account when analyzing the results of short-term measurements, and more specifically, to consider the evolution of the weather conditions five days prior to the radon measurement. This paper helps to ensure the relevance of this short-term measurement method available in Switzerland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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14 pages, 4321 KiB  
Article
Outdoor Radon and Its Progeny in Relation to the Particulate Matter during Different Polluted Weather in Beijing
by Cong Yu, Yuan Sun and Nanping Wang
Atmosphere 2023, 14(7), 1132; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14071132 - 09 Jul 2023
Viewed by 981
Abstract
This study aimed to investigate the differences in the relationship between radon and its progeny concentrations and particulate matter concentrations under varying pollution weather conditions. Outdoor radon and its progeny concentrations were measured by a radon/thoron- and radon/thoron progeny monitor (ERS-RDM-2S) during haze [...] Read more.
This study aimed to investigate the differences in the relationship between radon and its progeny concentrations and particulate matter concentrations under varying pollution weather conditions. Outdoor radon and its progeny concentrations were measured by a radon/thoron- and radon/thoron progeny monitor (ERS-RDM-2S) during haze and dust storm weather in Beijing. Particulate matter concentrations and meteorological data were simultaneously recorded. Results showed that radon and its progeny concentrations exhibited a diurnal variation pattern, with a minimum in the late afternoon and a maximum in the early morning. The average radon concentrations were similar under both pollution weather conditions, but significantly higher than the reported average for Beijing. The equilibrium equivalent radon concentration during haze was about two times that during a dust storm. PM10 concentrations were similar in both pollution weather conditions, but PM2.5 concentrations during haze were approximately 2.6 times higher than that during dust storms. A positive correlation was observed between radon and its progeny concentrations and particulate matter concentrations, but the correlation was significantly higher during haze than during dust storms. The higher PM2.5 concentration during haze significantly increased the correlation between radon and its progeny concentrations and particulate matter concentrations. We recommended protecting against radon exposure during pollutant weather, especially haze. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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12 pages, 740 KiB  
Article
Preliminary Population Exposure to Indoor Radon and Thoron in Dhaka City, Bangladesh
by Md. Mahamudul Hasan, Miroslaw Janik, Shikha Pervin and Takeshi Iimoto
Atmosphere 2023, 14(7), 1067; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14071067 - 24 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2088
Abstract
Radon, an element of natural radiation, is considered one of the leading causes of lung cancer worldwide. In Bangladesh, radon has been clarified as a foremost source of radiation exposure. Potential natural-radiation-induced elevated cancer risks were estimated in Bangladesh previously for the population. [...] Read more.
Radon, an element of natural radiation, is considered one of the leading causes of lung cancer worldwide. In Bangladesh, radon has been clarified as a foremost source of radiation exposure. Potential natural-radiation-induced elevated cancer risks were estimated in Bangladesh previously for the population. In this survey, as a very preliminary study in the country, comparative indoor radon (222Rn, Rn) and thoron (220Rn, Tn) concentration/population exposure was determined for the multistoried dwellings of south-western areas of Dhaka city. RADUET was used to assess annual Rn and Tn concentrations in determining the primary inhalation dose for the population. The annual effective dose of Rn and Tn was evaluated in this study for dwellings at 0.3 mSvy−1, constituting a Tn dose contribution of an average of 40% with a dwelling-based wide range of 10–96%. Thus, Tn should not be neglected for Bangladesh while estimating radiological inhalation dose from the indoor environment. Again, the equilibrium factors, F of Rn and Tn, were determined by short-term measurement at averages of 0.6 and 0.02, respectively. Furthermore, using questionnaire estimation by principal component analysis, PCA following the dwelling characteristics, human lifestyles, and estimated long-term indoor Rn and Tn concentrations, this paper discussed indoor atmospheric/Rn factors for the investigated multistoried dwellings in Dhaka city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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19 pages, 1738 KiB  
Article
Estimation of Indoor 222Rn Concentration in Lima, Peru Using LR-115 Nuclear Track Detectors Exposed in Different Modes
by Patrizia Pereyra, Cesar J. Guevara-Pillaca, Rafael Liza, Bertin Pérez, Jhonny Rojas, Luis Vilcapoma L., Susana Gonzales, Laszlo Sajo-Bohus, María Elena López-Herrera and Daniel Palacios Fernández
Atmosphere 2023, 14(6), 952; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14060952 - 30 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1756
Abstract
Radon is the main source of natural radioactivity, and its measurement is considered extremely important in radioprotection, given its relationship with the occurrence of lung cancer. In the last two years, measurements of this radioactive gas were carried out in Lima considering a [...] Read more.
Radon is the main source of natural radioactivity, and its measurement is considered extremely important in radioprotection, given its relationship with the occurrence of lung cancer. In the last two years, measurements of this radioactive gas were carried out in Lima considering a grid of 5 km2 and the population density to determine the number of measurements to be carried out. Cellulose nitrate nuclear track detectors exposed in bare mode and diffusion chamber mode were used to estimate 222Rn concentrations. In diffusion chamber mode, non-commercial monitors and commercial monitors were used. The monitoring results are presented for 43 districts of the Lima Province whose population is approximately ten million inhabitants occupying a total area of 2655.15 km2. Measurements were made obtaining an average concentration of 49 Bq·m3 using bare detectors and 66 Bq·m3 using non-commercial diffusion chambers. Average concentrations obtained by both detector exposure modes were below the maximum concentration recommended by the WHO. A radon (222Rn) map was also obtained as a visual representation of the 222Rn levels in the Lima province using inverse distance weighting (IDW) interpolation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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16 pages, 1891 KiB  
Article
Thoron Gas Measurement Using Airflow-Through Scintillation Cell with Consideration of Progeny Deposition
by Chao Zhao, Jiayu Liu, Yanliang Chen, Linfeng He, Fangdong Tang and Weihai Zhuo
Atmosphere 2023, 14(5), 831; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14050831 - 05 May 2023
Viewed by 947
Abstract
Accurate measurement of low-level thoron gas and high-accuracy calibration of thoron measurement devices are essential for assessing and preventing thoron radiological risks. This study aimed to develop a thoron gas measurement technique using an airflow-through scintillation cell for both low-level measurement and high-accuracy [...] Read more.
Accurate measurement of low-level thoron gas and high-accuracy calibration of thoron measurement devices are essential for assessing and preventing thoron radiological risks. This study aimed to develop a thoron gas measurement technique using an airflow-through scintillation cell for both low-level measurement and high-accuracy calibration. To achieve this, a compartment model was developed to estimate the influence of progeny deposition and accumulation on the wall of the scintillation cell to prevent an overestimation of thoron. A self-developed scintillation cell was utilised to implement and validate this technique. The lower detection limit and measurement uncertainty were then evaluated to assess the feasibility of the technique for low-level measurement and high-accuracy calibration. The results showed that the compartment model effectively addressed the influence of progeny deposition. The measurement technique achieved a lower detection limit below 100 Bq m−3 even with the coexistence of that of 100 Bq m−3 of radon and attained a measurement uncertainty (k = 2) below 10% when the concentration of thoron exceeded 1000 Bq m−3. In summary, this study developed a reliable and practical thoron gas measurement technique using an airflow-through scintillation cell with a consideration of progeny deposition, and is expected to contribute to the assessment and prevention of thoron radiological risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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Review

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24 pages, 1564 KiB  
Review
Indoor Radon Research in the Asia-Pacific Region
by Miroslaw Janik, Peter Bossew, Md. Mahamudul Hasan and Giorgia Cinelli
Atmosphere 2023, 14(6), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14060948 - 29 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2419
Abstract
Indoor radon is a major hazard to human health; it is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. Therefore, radon research in Asia has intensified recently due to the growing awareness of the harm that radon poses. An analysis of the collected [...] Read more.
Indoor radon is a major hazard to human health; it is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. Therefore, radon research in Asia has intensified recently due to the growing awareness of the harm that radon poses. An analysis of the collected literature data showed that in Asia–Oceania, some regions have—or are believed to have—little indoor radon problems due to climate and low Rn ground. It can be concluded that countries have their own approaches, techniques, and protocols. Data were not harmonized within each region; however, measurement techniques were compared by regional intercomparison exercises. The situation differs regarding studies on the usability of radon as a tracer or potential predictor of tectonic phenomena, as some countries are in seismically active zones, such as India, Taiwan, China, Japan, etc. India and Taiwan are global leaders in this research, as well as Italy, which is another seismically affected country. We provide an overview of radon-related surveying and research activities conducted in the western, southern, and eastern Asian regions over the past few years. Additionally, we observed that the number of indoor radon measurements per million inhabitants increases as the human development index (HDI) increases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Radon Concentration Monitoring and Measurements)
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