New metrology for radon at the environmental level

Annette Röttger, Stefan Röttger, Claudia Grossi, Arturo Vargas, Roger Curcoll, Petr Otáhal, Miguel Ángel Hernández-ceballos, Giorgia Cinelli, Scott Chambers, Susana Alexandra Barbosa, Mihail-razvan Ioan, Ileana Radulescu, Dafina Kikaj, Edward Chung, Tim Arnold, Camille Yver Kwok, Marta Fuente, Florian Mertes, Viacheslav Morosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Radon gas is the largest source of public exposure to naturally occurring radioactivity. However, radon is also a useful tracer for understanding atmospheric processes, assessing the accuracy of chemical transport models, and enabling integrated emissions estimates of greenhouse gases. A sound metrological system for low level atmospheric radon observations is therefore needed for the benefit of the atmospheric, climate and radiation protection research communities. To this end, here we present a new calibration method for activity concentrations below 20 Bq m−3 and a prototype of the first portable radon monitor capable of achieving uncertainties of 5% (at k = 2) at these concentrations. Compliance checking of policy-driven regulations regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is an essential component of climate change mitigation efforts. Independent, reliable 'top down' methods that can be applied consistently for estimating local- to regional-scale GHG emissions (such as the radon tracer method (RTM)) are an essential part of this process. The RTM relies upon observed radon and GHG concentrations and measured or modeled radon fluxes. Reliable radon flux maps could also significantly aid EU member states comply with European COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2013/59/EURATOM. This article also introduces the traceRadon project, key aims of which include outlining a standardized approach for application of the RTM, creating infrastructure with a traceability chain for radon concentration and radon flux measurements, and developing tools for the validation of radon flux models. Since radon progeny dominate the terrestrial gamma dose rate, the planned traceRadon activities are also expected to improve the sensitivity of radiation protection early warning networks because of the correlation known to exist between radon flux and ambient equivalent dose rates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124008
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2021


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