Denman, A. R., Groves-Kirkby, C. J. and Phillips, P. S. (2010) Estimating the health benefits of progeny extraction units as a means of reducing exposure to radon. In: Proceedings of the 3rd European Congress of the International Radiation Protection Association.
Denman, A. R., Groves-Kirkby, C. J. and Phillips, P. S.
Radon exposure to the general public can be reduced by preventing entry of radon gas into buildings using a passive radon-proof membrane or an active sump and pump system. However, a significant majority of the radiation dose delivered is from the decay products of radon rather than from the gas itself. These decay products (also referred to as progeny) are present in indoor air, with an equilibrium factor – a measure of the ratio of progeny to radon gas – of between 0.4 to 0.5. As a result, systems which extract radon progeny from the air by filtering have been promoted as means of reducing exposure to the general population. The European Community Radon Software (ECRS) offers a means of estimating lung-cancer risk associated with an individual’s exposure to radon, and includes the possibility of estimating the health risk from different proportions of radon gas and its progeny by varying the value of the Equilibrium Factor. This software was used to estimate the health benefits associated with reduced decay products in differing concentrations of radon gas. The results were compared to health benefits expected if the risk was reduced by the standard method of reducing the radon gas concentration below the Action Level, which in the UK is 200 Bq·m-3 for domestic properties. These calculations showed that there is the potential for efficient extraction units to provide the necessary dose and risk reduction where initial average radon gas concentrations are up to 800 Bq·m-3. However, above 1000 Bq·m-3, such systems cannot reduce the health risk sufficiently to reach levels comparable to those resulting from radon gas reduction to below the Action Level