2019 Symposium Abstracts

2019 Symposium Abstracts

2019 Program Print Download


Nicholas Conley*, Mary Kay Rayens, PhD, Amanda Thaxton-Wiggins, PhD, and Ellen Hahn, PhD, RN, FAA
BREATHE, College of Nursing, University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky


There is a link between season of the year and indoor radon assessment, with higher readings in winter compared with summer. The purpose was to determine if temperature, precipitation and wind were predictive of observed home radon values, in addition to seasonality (i.e., 3-month intervals starting in January). We used data from 116 Kentucky counties over a 26-year period (1990-2015). A mixed model assessed the factors significantly associated with quarterly averaged log-transformed radon levels. We could not retain both temperature and season as predictors since they were associated, and wind measurements were only available for counties (8) with airports. In the full model with 116 counties, season was a significant predictor of radon levels but precipitation was not. In the 8-county wind model, season and wind were significant predictors of radon and precipitation was not. Both models indicated lower radon levels in Seasons 2/3 (April-Sept).


Oderson Souza*1, Janine Correia2, Sergei Paschuk2, Francisco Ferreira3, Yula Merola4, Leda Rabelo5, Zildete Rocha6, Alessandra Bongiolo3, Francesco Antonelli3, Ulrich Ofterdinger8, Camila Athayde7, Gustavo Athayde7, Otávio Licht71Center for Technol. and Dev, Geol. Survey of Brazil, 2Federal Univ. of Technology – Parana, Brazil 3Geophys. Lab, Federal Univ. of Paraná 4Health Secret. of Poços de Caldas, Brazil 5Med. Dept. at Federal Univ. of Paraná 6Nuclear Dev. Technol. Center, Brazil 7Hydrogeol. Lab. Federal Univ. of Paraná, 8Queen’s University Belfast Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil


In Brazil, 26,492 deaths by lung cancer occurred in 2015. The government spends $15 billion USD/year to treat tobacco-related diseases and lung cancer. To date, few studies have addressed either the medical consequences or environmental relation. The Geological Survey of Brazil-CPRM and research center partners started a 10-year, fully integrated program based on the following: Radon Risk Map, Lung Cancer Causal Relation, Prevention and Mitigation, and Action Plans. This program will guide the government to create directives that minimize the risk of radon exposure. Funding will be sought from the appropriate national and international agencies. Initially the program will test a radon-risk map methodology in the state of Paraná based on radon measurements in dwellings (including patients’ residences), and airborne and ground gamma-ray spectrometry surveys. Subsequent program phases will include continuous radon measurements, risk-assessment in building materials, and higher level research activities. This presentation will cover various aspects of this program.


Wayne Dean, JD
SmartVentilation, Inc.
Fort Myers, Florida USA


Until recently, ventilation in multihousing has generally been by exhaust fan operation. The source of replacement (fresh) air was of little apparent concern. As a result, replacement (ventilation) air (often radon-rich) was sourced from building cavities of unknown location and contaminant levels, and through unknown and unconsidered pathways. A retrofit fresh air delivery alternative consists of a port bored from indoors through an exterior wall using a special boring rig, an easily removable ventilation/filtration module, and a controller sensing indoor temperature and relative humidity to control operation or speed control of the ventilation/filtration module, to maintain temperature and humidity comfort regardless of outdoor conditions. Multihousing dwellings are generally compartmentalized so fresh air delivery in such manner can provide a reliable source/quantity of suitable filtered fresh air to mitigate/maintain low radon, CO2 and particulate levels as well as increased oxygen within the unit’s breathing zone.


Wayne Dean, JD
SmartVentilation, Inc.
Fort Myers, Florida USA


Concrete emits radon. Exterior curtain walls of porous concrete blocks have lots of surface area from which radon can emit. If the exterior of the blocks is sealed, radon emissions are released only to the interior and into the space between the drywall and blocks (exterior wall cavities). Such exterior and demising wall cavities may become radon reservoirs. It is not uncommon that air-condition duct leaks will drive or draw the radon-rich wall cavity air into the breathing zone. Air handler operation commonly “mines” radon from the exterior and demising wall cavities and injects it directly into the conditioned air airstream. A radon “extraction” system can continuously extract this radon-rich wall cavity air and exhaust it directly to the out of doors. Reducing the pressure in the wall cavities will inhibit radon migration into the breathing zone through unintentional openings in the drywall interior pressure envelope.


Lisa Gregory, PhD
Independent Researcher
Leonardtown, Maryland


Radon-induced lung cancer is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. with alpha radiation from radon decay products (RDPs) providing over 95% of the dose. The EPA originally followed an RDP action level of 0.02 working levels (codified in U.S. law) in their protocols through the early 1990s, but eventually shifted to radon gas measurements due to the industry’s focus on simplifying detection techniques. Unfortunately, radon gas levels can be a poor indicator of actual exposure and potential dose in environments with robust ventilation because equilibrium factors are greatly reduced due to increased RDP plate out. This presentation will evaluate published data related to “unattached” fraction and how dose is affected by varying particle size.

Transforming Public Health Systems to Integrate Radon and Tobacco Control (PSP)

Ellen J. Hahn, PhD, RN, FAAN1*, William C. Haneberg, PhD, PG2, Clay Hardwick, MA3, Elizabeth Anderson-Hoagland, MPH4, and Danielle Ray, MA1
1BREATHE, University of Kentucky College of Nursing, Lexington, KY USA
2Kentucky Geological Survey, Lexington, KY USA
3Kentucky Radon Program, Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH), Frankfort, KY USA4Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program, KDPH, Frankfort, KY USA


We describe a novel project to increase capacity for coordinated lung cancer prevention by integrating public health systems for radon and tobacco risk reduction. Kentucky leads the nation in lung cancer incidence and mortality. Members of a state collaborative comprised of the BREATHE team at the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Geological Survey, and the state health department’s radon and tobacco control programs presented a series of interactive presentations with public health professionals to brainstorm ways to promote collaboration and break down traditional silos. We provided basic radon and tobacco smoke education and summarized existing programs, projects, and activities led by each organization. Ideas for integrating radon and tobacco control included launching an ad campaign on synergistic risk, partnering with schools to reach parents and youth, adding school health screening questions on radon and tobacco smoke exposure, and connecting existing coalitions with radon and tobacco resources for testing and remediation.


David Innes, C-NRPP
Radon Environmental Management Corp.
Vancouver, BC, Canada


Radon is responsible for thousands of lung cancer deaths every year. Radon in water is a serious contributor to these deaths.

Airwell is a new technology mitigation system for radon in well water. It is the only system on the marketplace that mitigates the radon by using the water column in the well as the aeration chamber. It reduces Radon levels by 92-99%. It is a virtually maintenance free low voltage system that uses the same amount of power as a 60W light bulb and requires no re-pressurization of your water system.

The health impacts of radon in well/groundwater are serious and awareness is growing across the US, where according to the EPA there are an estimated 15 million wells. Recent examples of wells that have been mitigated using this new technology will also be presented from a number of Provinces and States.


Han Soo Kim*,1 Ph.D, Jang Ho Ha1, Young Soo Kim1, Chang Goo Kang1, Jeong Min Park1, SooJin Kim1, Hyojeong Choi1, A Hyun Park1, Byung Hyuk Kim1, Seung Yeon Cho2, Seong Hong Kim2, and Min Joon Kim2
1Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute
2Environmental Engineering, Yonsei University
Geumgu-gil, Jeongeup-si, Jeollabuk-do, Republic of Korea
1 Yonseidae-gil, Wonju, Gangwon-do, Republic of Korea


There are many radon (222Rn) measurement methods with various radiation detectors, such as an ionization chamber, a scintillator cell for detection of alpha particles, an electret, and a charcoal canister. In addition, an alpha spectrometer using a semiconductor can separately detect radon and thoron (220Rn) by energy spectrum analysis of their progenies (218Po/216Po). The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that thoron should not affect a radon risk assessment. We developed an alpha spectrometer, equipped with an electrostatic radon chamber, by using a SSB (Silicon Surface Barrier) radiation detector for radon and thoron measurement. Active area of the developed silicon surface barrier is 2.5 cm ×2.5 cm, and the junction was made by evaporation of gold for junction barrier and aluminum for rectifying. The sensitivity for radon is 0.5 cpm/pCi/L. The fabrication and performance of the developed alpha spectrometer will be discussed.

A Study on Radon Exhalation Rate of Building Materials

Seonhong Kim1, Minjun Kim2, Dongwook Cha2, Seungjae Lee2, Seungyeon Cho1,2 ¹R&D Team, The VALUE, Wonju, South Korea ²Department of Environmental Engineering,
Yonsei University, Wonju, South Korea


Recent issues about thoron (Rn-220) became an important trigger for radon-222 measurements in South Korea. There are two important examples of this; 1) compulsory radon measurement and announcement for newly built apartments, and 2) increase of radon measurements by the public. For these reasons, the construction companies are trying to establish their own radon exhalation rate assessment protocol. This study was conducted to develop a suitable radon exhalation rate measurement process. The usual radon exhalation rate is measured at the equilibrium status which takes more than 3 weeks. However, it is considered that the short period method is necessary for the screening of building materials, thus 1 day to 4 days method was developed in this study. Newly set-up process showed about 90% similarity to the formal method. In conclusion, this method can be useful for the short-term radon exhalation rate measurement and database set up.

Concentration of Radon Emitted from Interior Building Materials in Korea

Prof. Cheol Min Lee1*, Sun Ju Nam Gung1, Hyong Jin Hong1, Young C. Won2, Young Sub Lee2, Yong Hee Lee2
Department of Nano Biotechnology, SeoKyeong University
C&H Inc. Seoul, Republic of Korea


This study was part of research to assess the health impacts of radon exposure in Korea and establish plans for mitigation. Radon emanation from interior building materials were evaluated; these have a significant effect on indoor radon concentration in residential environments and therefore, on indoor air quality.

The results of radon emanation from wall, ceiling, and floor materials were evaluated using in-situ measurement data from sealed rooms in 37 locations. The radon concentrations in indoor air in these spaces were obtained using E-perm devices. Measurements were taken over approximately two days. To exclude the effects of soil, only rooms on the fifth floor and above were included in the study. The results of the study showed that the average radon emission rates from wall, ceiling, and floor materials were 25.7, 29.5, and 20.6 Bq/m3/day, respectively. The average radon concentration in indoor air was 145.5 Bq/m3.

Wisconsin Fish Hatchery – An Occupational Radon Exposure

Jessica Maloney
Indoor Air and Radon Program Manager
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Madison, WI USA


In 2012 the oldest fish hatchery in the state of Wisconsin tested for radon and found levels over 200 pCi/L. This presentation walks through the strategy used to discover where the radon was coming from (the groundwater) and how it was eventually mitigated. Water is not usually a significant source of radon in the air but it can be in certain environments. Discussion will provide the testing processes used, how worker exposure was reduced until mitigation was resolved over the course of 3-4 years, and the impact this case has had on other similar environments.

Measurements of Natural Radioactivity at the Environmental Preservation Area of Passauna River, Brazil

Aline C. Martin¹, Sergei A. Paschuk*¹, Janine N. Correa¹, Isabelle C. Araujo¹, Oderson Souza Filho²
¹ Federal University of Technology – Parana
² Center for Technol. Dev., Geological Survey of Brazil
Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil


Understanding the distribution and occurrence of radionuclides concentrations is relevant for the quality of life of the local population. This research is focused on characterizing the natural (background) radioactivity measurements in an environmental preservation region of the Passaúna River, at the edge of the Curitiba urban area in the state of Paraná, Brazil. A survey was conducted to measure radionuclides concentration in the soil, lake waters and well waters. Radium and radon measurements were recorded with the portable radon monitor Alphaguard and accessories. The results revealed values that were above the limit established by national and international regulatory standards in soil and waters.

Highly Sensitive Passive Detectors for Short-term Pre- and Post- Mitigation Measurements

Dobromir Pressyanov, Prof.
Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”
Sofia, Bulgaria


In practice it is required to evaluate the achieved radon reduction, preferably shortly after the mitigation installation is activated. As instantaneous measurements are affected by short term radon variations, few days pre- and post-mitigation integrated measurements of sufficient sensitivity might be preferred. Within the European MetroRADON project novel detectors of sufficient sensitivity for that purpose were developed. They are based on using DVDs of low intrinsic background as track detectors, covered with Makrofol N foils. The absorption of radon by Makrofol N is very high (concentration ratio foil/air is > 100). The Makrofol N foil serves as radon absorber/radiator that greatly amplifies the signal (net track-density at etched DVDs). The achievable sensitivity is < 20 Bq m-3 for a one week exposure. The detectors are cheap and usable for measurements at many points in large buildings. A design not affected by thoron presence and temperature variations is described and discussed.

Youth as Citizen Scientists to Promote Home Radon Testing in Appalachia

Ellen J. Hahn, PhD, RN, FAAN1, Monica Mundy, MPH1, Nick Conley, BA1, Emily Morris, MS2, Craig Wilmhoff, MS3, Kathy Rademacher, BA1, and Mary Kay Rayens, PhD1
1BREATHE, University of Kentucky College of Nursing, Lexington, KY USA
2Kentucky Geological Survey, Lexington, KY USA
3Perry County Central High School, Hazard, KY, USA


We will describe a citizen science project to empower high school students to promote radon testing and mitigation in rural Appalachia. We adapted a radon toolkit to educate youth citizen scientists. Classroom training included: (1) human subjects training; (2) health effects of radon; (3) instructions for deploying the test kits; and (4) considerations for report back. Youth citizen scientists explained the study to their parents and obtained informed consent. If radon levels were high, the youth citizen scientists discussed options with their parents, in consultation with the academic team. For homeowners who chose to mitigate, we provided a $1,000 voucher. We validated the home radon toolkit using in situ soil radon gas measurements, and evaluated the usability and feasibility of the toolkit for radon sampling with high school students and their families. We will share results and benefits of the citizen science approach to radon risk reduction in rural Appalachia.

This project is funded by an Administrative Supplement to UK-CARES, an Environmental Health Science Core Center funded by NIEHS (3P30ES026529-02S1)

Accuracy and Precision in Measurement of Radon in Water By Liquid Scintillation Counting

Uttam Saha1, Pamela Turner2, Dana Lynch3, and Derek Cooper2
1Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA. 2Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA. 3 Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, Monroe County Extension, Athens, GA.


Accuracy and precision, the two important quality assurance milestones, are difficult to ascertain in measurement of radon in water because radon is a gas. This paper discusses the experience of various exercises performed in our laboratory to ascertain these two milestones. The counting efficiencies of multiple liquid radium standards purchased from a commercial vendor produced inconsistent and unacceptable counting efficiencies; thus, their use in the analysis of radon appeared questionable. Duplicate analysis of radon in 231 well water samples mostly yielded relative percentage deviation (RPD) ≤15% and seldom >15%. However, >15% RPD was mostly associated with the presence of an air bubble in one of the duplicate samples or presence of unequal sized air bubbles in both. Repeated analyses of two radon proficiency-test samples, regenerated at 40 to 60-day intervals over a period of three years, consistently yielded acceptable precision and accuracy. Thus, a proficiency testing for radon in water is a valid and valuable option and should be part of radon analysis in water.

Radon and Chemical Soil-Gas/Vapor Intrusion – Update on Testing Associations

H. Schuver*, C. Lutes, C. Holton, J. Kurtz, B. Schumacher, J. Zimmerman and R. Truesdale
USEPA – RCRA Cleanup Programs
Washington, DC


While radon typically presents numerically higher risks in indoor air than chemical vapor intrusion (CVI), the risk of CVI typically raises more concerns for the public and is much more expensive and disruptive to assess. However, the similarities between the intrusion of these two components of soil gas could be used to increase the protection of public health from both risks. Recent analyses have shown associations, with 98 and 99% confidence, where the direction of concentration change of indoor radon over time was predictive of the direction of concentration change of chemicals from CVI over hundreds of days, in two well-studied homes with substantial variation in intrusion over time. This suggests radon is a tracer incorporating many building-specific variables. Evidence from further testing of additional buildings from across the US, for both temporal and spatial associations between indoor concentrations of radon and chemicals from soil gas/vapor intrusion, is present. 

Targeted Community Radon Testing: Results and Impact on Mitigations Performed

Kevin M. Stewart
American Lung Association
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania


After identification of Pennsylvania municipalities where previous radon test results had indicated that some significantly elevated concentrations could be expected among further tests, short-term activated-carbon radon test kits were provided in 31 selected municipalities to residents requesting them, yielding approximately 11,500 test results over a four-year period.  This report describes that program, its scale and scope, findings of high results, sample means, distribution by level classes, and comparison by residence floor.  The rates at which mitigations were carried out in test-program communities and in non-targeted neighboring control communities, comparing pre-testing and post-testing periods, with implications for positive impacts on measurable outcomes, are analyzed and discussed.


Lawrence E. Welch*, Yu-An I. Chen, Mark D. Jones, Christopher L. Beck
Knox College
Galesburg, Illinois, USA


Reports of encountering “bad air” have occasionally resulted from humans entering cave passages with high levels of carbon dioxide.  Humans breathing high concentrations of carbon dioxide will note obvious physiological impacts, ranging from breathlessness up to death at extreme values.  Numerous caves have been shown to feature “bad air” in the form of high levels of radon gas, but instrumentation is required for this to be diagnosed.  Although the sources that bring carbon dioxide and radon into the caves are different, it is plausible that poor ventilation of a cave’s interior is a contributing factor toward that cave having high levels of either gas.  This study was set up to measure the levels of both gases simultaneously in an Iowa cave, and to evaluate how highly correlated these values are to one another.

Assessing Radon Exposure Using Spatial Analysis and its role in the Canadian National Radon Program

Colin Gutcher1, Jeff Whyte2, Brad Harvey3, and Michel Gauthier4 1 Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON 2 Intelligent Building Operations, National Research Council, Ottawa, ON 3 Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON 4 Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, Ottawa, ON


The National Radon Program (NRP) in Canada has been focusing on national strategies to increase homeowner participation in testing and mitigation, as well as providing support and resources for interested stakeholders. Using the extensive indoor radon survey data, the NRP is now using GIS mapping capability to identify geographic regions with higher radon levels, and identifying vulnerable populations which reside in these regions, to focus future resources and strategies to reduce radon exposure. Spatial analysis was completed using a multi-criteria approach with inputs of indoor radon measurements, bedrock geology, surficial geology, and airborne gamma-ray spectroscopy. Future works include using population statistics and characteristics to identify different demographics for policy or program targeting.