Last week, our specialist radon measurement advisor made a presentation at the UKRA symposium reviewing the existing protocols for radon testing. The main conclusions are: there is a new scenario after the implementation of EURATOM BSS 59/2013 Directive in Europe; most member states have adopted or will adopt a reference level of 300 Bq m-3; the following EU countries have a protocol to describe how to measure radon (WP’s): Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, UK, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden. Norway and Switzerland have similar protocols too. In addition to that, there is a new industrial guideline to measure radon at work places (IRMA 0791-30). A video of this presentation will be available soon at the UKRA website.
This week Radonova Laboratories AB has been a gold sponsor at UKRA symposium. The meeting has been organised by UK Radon association in the city of Bath, UK. More than 60 participants have attended 9 presentations and 6 case study talks. Tony Colgan, from IAEA, made the keynote presentation and the meeting has had speakers from Canada, Ireland, Sweden, UK and USA. In addition, 9 exhibitors have shown their products. Congratulations to UKRA for this fantastic event.
The new Directive EURATOM BSS 2013/59 is being implemented on the EU member states. Therefore, the need for having radon measurements services that provide trustable results is a must. Some EU member states have published lists to include these services. Radonova Laboratories AB belongs to those lists. Two examples to keep in mind: PHE has a validation scheme for laboratories and recently, the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) has published its own list. On this list, Radonova has added its resellers in Spain too.
The challenge of making correct radon measurements
Testing laboratories aim to accomplish high standards in terms of laboratory practice, accuracy of their results and participation in inter-comparison exercises. To achieve that they formerly followed their own internal procedures and designed their own measurement protocols. Given that scenario, how reliable are test results? How can we compare the results obtained by two different laboratories using different testing protocols? The question becomes more relevant when we need to fulfil national legislation and provide results that would be accepted as legal evidence in a court of law.
The best way to provide reliable test values and comparable results among laboratories might be to measure the same sample parameters following the same methods. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. One can perform a test and provide results for the same sample parameter using different approaches. ISO means International Standards Organization. The list of existing standards is very large, and they are applicable to almost any possible measurement. Not only testing, but also calibration has to be made according to common practices. Therefore, the only possible solution is to comply with ISO/IEC 17025 (revised in 2017).
The name of the game – Accreditation according to ISO/IEC 17025
ISO/IEC 17025 contains general requirements to assess the proper competence of testing and calibrating laboratories. It is a full quality system that can be applied to any testing/calibration activity and is particularly relevant to the measurement of radon levels. Accreditation means that the laboratory has met the Management Requirements and Technical Requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 and is deemed technically competent to produce calibration and testing results. This means that we can always verify that our measurements are correct, both accurate and reproducible. This standard is valid for any organization performing testing activities and applies equally to very small laboratories right up to large corporations.
Due to the recent EURATOM BSS Directive, it is necessary to establish a reference level of radon gas concentration in each EU member state. The Directive mandates member states to monitor radon levels in dwellings, work places and public areas. A detailed list of actions is included in the Directive and all member states must set up a national radon action plan. Hence the need to have credible results is essential and the consequences of bad practice may imply serious deviations from the level of accomplishment required by the Directive. Currently, most national authorities demand measurement protocols from the testing service being used and a quality system in place. The accreditation awarded under ISO/IEC 17025 meets this demand ensuring confidence in the accuracy and precision of measurements. It comes with an implicit guarantee that a quality system is in place with systematic procedures supporting each reported value.
EPA radon-Ireland (former Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland) has a long tradition of radon research. The radon program in Ireland is a good example of increasing awareness among general public and good practices. Radon maps are becoming more and more popular. However, we should not forget that the best way to investigate radon concentrations at homes is by means of a radon measurement. The Castleisland radon survey is an example of homes with very elevated radon levels located in a low-risk area in the county of Kerry. In July 2003, “a house located in the vicinity of Castleisland was identified with an average radon concentration seasonally adjusted of 49,000 Bq/m3 (highest level ever measured in a house in the country)”
We use to say that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. There is enough scientific evidence to prove this. However, other forms of cancer may be due to radon too. Dr. Leslie Sutherland from Health Sciences North Research Institute in Canada is leading a project funded by NEO kids foundation to look into “how the exposure of radon is altering human cells of the lung, at the molecular level”. Leukaemia is the most common cause of cancer among children and radon has been associated with certain types of leukaemia. You can find more information about this in a recent article published at The Sudsburystar.
Radonova will be gold sponsor at the upcoming UKRA symposium that will be held in Bath, UK. The symposium will start in the evening on 14th March with a networking activity. On 15th March, different speakers from around the world will present contributions that will include the UK National Radon Action Plan. Jose – Luis Gutierrez Villanueva from Radonova will make the presentation entitled “protocols for radon testing”. His presentation will deal with existing measurement protocols to determine radon concentration in dwellings and workplaces. He will make a summary of the official guidelines in Europe and present some common points. Come to Bath and join us on the second edition of this UKRA event!
Radonova is proud to announce that our product Duotrak® has been officially listed with NRPP as standard measurement device for the use in the United States and Canada. NRPP is the National Radon Proficiency Program. Products listed with NRPP ensure that they follow the standard protocols issued by ANSI-AARST for performing radon measurements. Duotrak® offers you a simple way to separate radon exposure measurements made during working hours from non-working hours at the work place.
CARST (Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists) organises this 2018 Annual Radon Conference in Ottawa (22-24 April). This year´s topic is “An Elemental Approach: RADON in EARTH AIR WATER”. Radonova is very proud to be gold sponsor of the conference. In addition, Radonova will have one speaker on April 23 presenting the new EURATOM BSS (Basic Safety Standards) Directive.
Professionals dealing with radon gas know how important to increase radon awareness is. An article published on St Valentine’s day in the North Shore news interviewed two important names on radon awareness in Canada: Dr. Anne-Marie Nicol (Simon Fraser University) and Alan Whitehead (founding board member and President of CARST and CEO of Radon Environmental). Anne-Marie and Alan are working hard on increasing radon awareness among Canadian population. Anne-Marie is leading a project at her university called “Citizen Scientist Project for radon gas”. These are two examples of joint efforts from scientific and commercial sides to increase radon awareness and therefore protect people from radon exposure.
Radonova Laboratories is a radon testing company and a producer of radon detectors that has strong interest on radon research. Therefore, it aims to state up-to-date on the most important radon research activities carried out within the scientific community. Due to this, Radonova Laboratories is one of the stakeholders and part of the Industry Interest Group of the EMPIR project metroRADON. This week, Radonova Laboratories has participated in the metroRADON consortium meeting that was held in Braunschweig (Germany) on 20-21 February. 30 participants from different research institutions presented the progress of the project and the upcoming activities.
Radonova Laboratories is founding member of the European Radon Association (ERA) and it has been an active member since 2013. ERA has made its name on the radon community in Europe and it is recognised as an important voice on radon issues. On the last edition of the European Radon Day, ERA made a series of videos in different languages (English, French, German and Spanish) about radon and the EURATOM Basic Safety Standards Directive. You can find these videos on the ERA YouTube channel.
Radonova Laboratories is a company that not only deals with radon, but also with the measurement of #Radiocaesium (137Cs). Last fall we measured one sample meat with very high levels of 137Cs. The English newspaper “The Telegraph” published on 6th of October an interesting article entitled “Radioactive wild boar spark concerns in Sweden 31 years after Chernobyl”. We must recall that half-life of 137Cs is 30.07 y. The article reports that the radiation level was 16,000 becquerel per kilogram (Bq kg-1). The limit for 137Cs content is 1500 Bq kg-1. At Radonova Laboratories we also perform 137Cs measurements and this is part of our accreditation ISO 17025.
About #radon gas: Although #radon is a natural radioactive gas, elevated #radon levels indoors are not natural but a by-product of building practices. #radon levels may change daily, and #radon gas accumulation occurs indoors in all type of buildings.
#radon as a health risk: It has been scientifically proved throughout several scientific studies that exposure to #radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer (Darby S. et al, Scand j Work Environ Health 2006;32 (1):1-84; Darby et al, BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38308.477650.63 (published 21 December 2004); Lubin at al, Int. J. Cancer: 109, 132–137 (2004); Lubin et al, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A Vol. 69, Iss. 7-8, 2006). #radon decay products attach to the respiratory system and may cause damage to our DNA.
EURATOM BSS: The new Directive establishes a reference level of 300 Bq m-3. The Directive mandates member states to monitor #radon levels in dwellings, work places and public areas. A detailed list of actions is included on the document and all member states have to set up a national #radon action plan.
CRCPD (Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors) has issued a new guide for health care providers. The document is entitled “Reducing the Risk from Radon: Information and Interventions”. It is a very interesting document that describes in 11 pages basic facts about radon: what is radon?; radon health risk; scientific evidence of connection between radon and lung cancer; how to test radon?; how to reduce radon levels?; and other resources. NOTE: EPA’s radon action level of 4 pCi/L is equivalent to 148 Bq/m3.
You can download the document here
ICRP, International Commission on Radiological Protection, has issued the document ICRP Publication 137 (ICRP, 2017. Occupational Intakes of Radionuclides: Part 3. ICRP Publication 137. Ann. ICRP 46(3/4)). This document is entitled “Occupational intakes of radionuclides: Part 3”. The publication contains an electronic annex with a comprehensive set of committed effective and equivalent dose coefficients for radon among other radionuclides. A summary of ICRP Recommendations on radon can be found here
Interview Dr. Borja Frutos-Vazquez
On a recent interview for one Spanish radio station, Dr. Borja Frutos-Vazquez made an excellent review of radon fundamentals and radon prevention and remediation techniques. He covers most aspects from what radon is to how to remove radon from dwellings. The interview is in Spanish, but it is worth the effort to listen to. Dr. Frutos-Vazquez is a prominent researcher on radon in Spain and he was member of the EC of ERA (European Radon Association; www.radoneurope.org). You can access the interview on the following link: https://www.ivoox.com/que-hacer-frente-al-radon-audios-mp3_rf_23344947_1.html
It is possible to reduce radon levels and it is task to be accomplished by all members of the society, from general public to the stakeholders and policy makers.
The Council of the European Union issued the new Directive EURATOM Basic Safety Standards (BSS) in January 2014. This document aims to offer better protection for people in workplaces and in dwellings. The document introduces radon gas for the first time into the radiological protection system and establishes a reference level of 300 Bq m-3. In addition to this, the occupational exposure regulation for radon in workplaces has 6 mSv y-1 as the limit value. Above this limit, the situation should be managed as a planned exposure situation and below the limit the requirement is to keep exposures under review.
Implementation in February 2018
The deadline to implement the new Directive is February 2018. Not only reference levels must be introduced in the 28 EU countries, but also national radon action plans have to be developed. Traditionally, the situation of radon policies throughout Europe has been very different from country to country. Nordic countries, Ireland and the UK have some of the most advanced radon programmes while southern countries have done much less to tackle the radon issue.
Main articles about radon
There are four articles very relevant in terms of radon exposure: Art. 2, Art. 54, Art. 74 and Art. 103. According to Article 2, the Directive applies in particular to the exposure of workers or members of the public to indoor radon. So, after implementation of the new Directive, all EU member states will have to include all sectors of their population into the system of radiological protection when it comes to monitoring radon exposure. Articles 54 (radon exposure at workplaces) and 74 deal with the reference level in the member states. The reference levels for the annual average activity concentration in air shall not be higher than 300 Bq m−3. Finally Article 103 refers to the establishment of a national action plan addressing long-term risks from radon exposure in dwellings, buildings with public access and workplaces for any source of radon ingress. Annex XVIII on the document sets out the issues of the action plan.
Five countries have already implemented EU Directive 2013/59/Euratom
Article 106 of the Directive clearly states that “Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 6 February 2018”. In order to get an overview of the implementation’s state, the recent International Workshop on the European Atlas of Natural Radiation dedicated a special session to the implementation state. Almost all EU member states made a presentation and it was concluded that only 5 countries have already implemented the Directive at the time of the workshop. Some countries will implement the new legislation on time before the deadline but a significant amount of member states will have problems complying on time.
The second edition of the International workshop on the European Atlas of Natural Radiation took place in Verbania, Italy from 6th to 9th November 2017. More than 70 participants gathered in this Italian city on the shore of the famous Lake Maggiore. The audience was composed of researchers and authorities with responsibility for radiological protection. A small number of private companies were among the participants including Radonova Laboratories AB. The European Radon Association was also represented at this meeting.
The workshop included 10 sessions and 60 oral presentations. The sessions dealt with the following topics:
- Radon policies
- Sources of natural radiation: geochemical, gamma, soil and water
- Sources of natural radiation: instruments, buildings
- Radon and geology
- Radon priority areas: methodology
- Radon priority areas: risk, mapping, classification
- Relationship between variables: methodology, multivariate
- Relationship between variables: multivariate, transport
- Indoor radon
- Atlas publication
Radon policies, radon as a tracer and radon in water
The workshop opened with Radon policies and during that session speakers from IAEA, EU, WHO, ERA and other on-going research projects, (metroRADON, LIFE-RESPIRE, Ribibui) discussed the current effect of the radon issue on EU legislation and the Basic Safety Standards documents issued by the EU and IAEA. The question of the current state of DCF’s (Dose Conversion Factors) was addressed as well as radon enforcement actions. Speakers representing 11 countries made presentations concerning sources of natural radiation. The first talk of this session showed the current state of the European Radon Map. It followed talks about the use of radon as a tracer, surveys performed in some countries to assess exposure to gamma radiation, fertilisers with radionuclide content and building materials. Also, radon in water was included for the first time in the workshop.
Radon priority areas, geology and eartquakes
The connection between radon and geological activity included the topic of using radon to forecast earthquakes. The new EURATOM BSS requires the need to define radon priority areas in the EU member states. Therefore, a significant number of presentations were devoted to this subject. Germany, Ireland, Austria, Croatia and Spain presented their advances on this important topic that will be very relevant in the upcoming implementation of the EURATOM BSS Directive. The last day included presentations focusing on indoor radon surveys in various countries, especially those in Eastern Europe.
The European Atlas of Natural Radiation
To conclude the workshop, Giorgia Cinelli and Tore Tollefsen (JRC, EU) presented their progress to date with the publication of the European Atlas of Natural Radiation. This is intended to be an encyclopaedia of natural radiation and it is expected to be finalised at the end of 2018.
ROOMS meetings have been a must on radon mitigation in Europe since 2000. ROOMS is the acronym for Radon Outcomes On Mitigation Solutions. This series of meetings began in 2000 as an initiative for people associated with radon mitigation in Europe, bringing together academic research and practical experience from industry. The first meetings were held in Central Europe and the official language was German. ROOMS has evolved over the years and become a very important event on radon mitigation in Europe. Nowadays, ROOMS meetings are supported by ERA (European Radon Association) and more than 100 people meet every year. It is an international event (English has substituted German as the official language) and this year it was hosted by EPA-Ireland and NUIG (National University of Ireland Galway).
The city of Galway was an excellent choice for the event and Radonova laboratories participated with two representatives. ROOMS was followed by the National Irish Radon Forum organised by EPA-Ireland.
ROOMS started with presentations from universities and research institutions. First, Le Chi Hung (NUIG, Ireland) presented “An investigation of the optimum specification for soil depressurization systems (active and passive) that take account of Irish building practices”, a project carried out in collaboration with the University of Cantabria (Spain). This presentation was followed by a speaker from CSTB (France), Emilie Powaga. Emilie’s presentation focused on the fact that sometimes sumps are not good solutions to reduce radon levels. After CSTB’s presentation, Connie Box (Bjerking AB, Sweden) presented practical examples of mitigations in old buildings in Sweden. Gernot Wurm (AGES, Austria) made a remarkable exposition of the new Austrian standard for radon prevention in new buildings. Per Nilsson’s presentation (Independia International, Sweden) concerned the Scandinavian experience of radon diagnostics and corrective action. He concluded with the message that testing does not save any lives. Ingvild Finne (NRPA, Norway) talked about the effect on radon levels after the introduction of binding requirements for preventive measures in new buildings in Norway. The significance of this action centred on reducing the radon concentration in homes (40 %) and the percentage of houses above the action limit.
The first day of the meeting ended with presentations made by Borja Frutos-Vazquez (Eduardo Torroja Institute for construction sciences, Spain), Mary T. O’Mahony (HSE, Ireland) and Boris Dehandschutter (FANC, Belgium). Boris showed some interesting facts about the radon problem in karstic regions. These regions may have an increased radon risk. Limestone represents a low to medium risk however the radon variations in karst regions are very high. Radon mitigation in these areas is a big issue.
The second day at ROOMS began with presentations made by Fabio Barazza (Federal Office Public Health, Switzerland), Viktoria Schauer (AGES, Austria), Stephanie Hurst (Saxon State Ministry, Germany), Celine de Potter (HEIA FR, Switzerland) and James McGrath (NUIG, Ireland). James presented a project where they are handling 32 Gb of data in order to understand the ventilation and radon concentration in terms of energy efficiency in Irish buildings. After the break, the speakers varied from the private sector (Thomas Streil, SARAD Germany) and public institutions (NRPA, Belarus Science Academy and State office for Nuclear Safety from Czech Republic).
Next year ROOMS will be part of European Radon Week which will take place during the last week of September 2018 in Lugano, at SUPSI.
The main presentations at the National Irish Radon Forum were made by Stephanie Long and David Fenton. Stephanie presented the national radon control strategy showing impressive and outstanding work on radon in Ireland. They have completed a training course for site staff and radon remediators. In addition, the Law society of Ireland has raised three questions concerning radon which must be answered before putting a home on the market.
David Fenton delivered the current state of the EURATOM BSS implementation in Ireland. The key facts are: a reduction in the reference level for workplaces; clearer requirements on carrying out radon measurements and when to remediate; radon measurements must be made by a registered radon measurement service. ‘Register’ means registered with the EPA; 3 month tests will be required. The new radon reference level in Ireland will be 300 Bq m-3. The full text of the Directive in Ireland can be found here