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Introducing MARKUS 10 – Measuring Radon Content in Soil

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As part of a wider strategic growth initiative, Radonova acquired the radon measurement instrument division of Gammadata Instruments earlier this year. The acquisition broadened Radonova’s portfolio of radon measurement technologies by adding several advanced instruments and products to its offering.

Here we take a more in-depth look at MARKUS 10, one of the state-of-the-art radon monitors developed and manufactured by Gammadata, a portable, battery-powered precision instrument for determining radon content in soil – designed with simplicity at its core.

MARKUS 10 Overview

Attach the MARKUS 10 and hollow measurement probe to the ground and simply press a button to start measuring. The soil air is pumped through the probe into a measurement chamber which detects radon daughters (charged isotopes produced from the decay of radon gas which are attached to particles and aerosols). A water lock prevents the chamber from being flooded. The result is presented in the display after 12 minutes.

MARKUS 10 in Action

During the initial measuring phase, air from the soil is pumped up through a sounding tube into a measuring cell. The pumping time (about 30 seconds) ensures that soil gas overfills the chamber.

A pressure sensor stops the pump if the pressure in the tube drops below a given value. When the pressure rises, the pump starts again. The pump’s running time is always the same, which guarantees a certain minimum volume of air that can be measured.

Following the pumping phase, the measurement phase commences. The detector is activated and the voltage to the measuring chamber is switched on. The charged radon daughters are driven towards the detector by an electric field in the chamber. The detector registers the alpha radiation originating from the radon daughters.

The detector pulses are amplified and filtered in a single channel analyser that only accepts pulses from the short-lived radon daughter polonium 218. This eliminates the slow variations in the background from polonium 214. The pulses are counted and the result is shown in text on the instrument’s display (kBq/m3 radon-gas activity).

The display flashes during the measuring phase and becomes steady when the measurement is completed. As the instrument only counts pulses from the short-lived nuclide polonium 218, a new measurement can be started after just 18 minutes. In that time, activity from the previous measurement will have decayed sufficiently.

MARKUS 10 accessories include an aluminium case, charger, water seal, handle, impact rod, spanner to sounding tube and replaceable tip.

Technical Specifications:

Pump capacity: 1.8 lit/min
Effective pumping time: 30 sec
Lower pressure limit: 0.95 Atm
Type of detector: Passivated Implanted Planar Silicon (PIPS™) Detectors
Active area of detector: 100 mm²
Window thickness: 200 µm
Energy resolution of detector: < 16 keV (in vacuum)
Battery capacity: About 70 measurements
Battery type: Lead
Recharging time: 8 hours
Accuracy of measurement: 10 % at 50 kBq/m³ (1350 pCi/l)
Measurement time: Typically 12 minutes
Measurement range: 1– 199kBq/m³
Dimensions: 220 x 122 x 80 mm (L x H x D)
Weight 3 kg

More information about MARKUS is available here»
More information on radon and radon measurement can be found here»

Introducing MARKUS 10 – Measuring Radon Content in Soil

Accreditation guarantees accurate radon measurement

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Accreditation guarantees the quality of a radon measurement, in part because the laboratory’s measurement processes are regularly checked by independent organizations. However, most of the world’s radon laboratories are not accredited, which to many might seem a little strange. Why is this? Firstly, accreditation entails a large additional cost and secondly customers do not demand it, but this is expected to change.
The definition of an accredited radon measurement is a measurement obtained using radon detectors from a laboratory which is accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025 and follows the instructions that accompany the detectors.

Why is accreditation important?

When a customer orders a radon measurement, the expectation is that the measurement is conducted professionally and accurately – a non-accredited laboratory cannot guarantee this.
– An incorrect procedure can, for example, lead to measuring too low values, although the user is actually measuring an indoor environment with high radon levels. For those who live or work in such an environment, the risk of suffering from lung cancer increases and unfortunately the individual will not be aware of this. Conversely, carrying out a measurement that incorrectly shows too high values also has undesirable consequences. This means time and money is invested to reduce radon levels even though it is not necessary, comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.
The conclusion is therefore obvious: always use radon measurement technology from an accredited laboratory. In Sweden, the authorities also require accreditation.

What differentiates an accredited radon laboratory?
An accreditation according to the laboratory standard ISO/IEC 17025 sets a quality level for the business. This includes mandatory requirements for quality systems and competence.

Factors that differentiate Radonova from other providers:

  • Our measurement processes are continuously revised by an independent government agency. They check that we meet different measurement standards and ISO/IEC 17025. In Radonova’s case, it is SWEDAC, the national accreditation body for Sweden, that continuously tests that the company is competent to carry out the accredited tests.
  • We are monitored for impartiality – there should be no self-interest for Radonova to provide a certain measurement result. For example, if you conduct radon consulting, it could be tempting to show too high values because it would generate more jobs. We do not do that.
  • We continuously calibrate our measuring equipment and radon detectors against a known radon source, e.g. Radon chamber of the Radiation Safety Authority.
  • We participate in demanding national and international comparison tests.

Note, accreditation may relate to different measurement methods. Therefore, it is important to check what types of measurements a laboratory is accredited for. Radonova is accredited for both indoor air and water measurements. Here you will find more information about Radonova and our accredited measurement methods.

Customers can trust a measurement from Radonova

Since October 1995, Radonova has been an accredited test laboratory for radon. This means that we can guarantee high quality and accurate radon measurements. With accreditation and the market’s fastest delivery and analysis times, we have become the first choice for individuals and businesses who want to carry out a correct radon measurement as efficiently as possible.

Measuring radon in water – Radonova gets top marks in EU test

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Radonova Laboratories has achieved excellent results in the comparative EU test “REM 2018”. The test measures the incidence of radon in water and compares participating laboratories’ analytical results with a reference value. Radonova’s analysis had an average deviation of 3.1 per cent in relation to the reference value. Deviations up to 15 per cent are judged to be an acceptable result.  

“This is a large-scale international test that demonstrates that Radonova’s method of measuring radon in drinking water is reliable and very precise. Radon in water does not necessarily present a major problem. However, radon that evaporates into indoor air when, for example, we take a shower, wash up or do laundry, can be a health hazard. For this reason it is important for studies and tests of this kind to be conducted,” comments Tryggve Rönnqvist, technical manager at Radonova Laboratories.

The comparative test covers a total of 101 participating laboratories, some of which have been involved in more than one analysis. The full name of the test is “REM 2018 radon-in-water proficiency test”.

About radon gas in water     

Radon in water easily evaporates into the air. This in turn can contribute to raised radon levels in the indoor air, and leads to an increased risk of lung cancer. Radon levels of 1,000 Bq/l can add roughly another 100 Bq/m³ to the indoor air. It is primarily radon gas in drinking water from drilled wells that must be measured, in order to ensure that the water does not contain dangerous levels of radon.

For further information about radon in water, visit https://radonovalaboratories.com/questions-and-answers-about-radon-in-water/

ATMOS: New version of the world’s lightest and most sensitive radon sniffer

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Radonova Laboratories is launching a completely new version of the radon sniffer ATMOS. The new version weighs 4.5 kg , has a new design, several new features and enhanced software functionality. The new ATMOS is designed to enable even faster and more efficient radon measurements in the field. The latest version of ATMOS is now commercially available.
The instrument has been developed to meet the needs of an international market that is growing and demanding modern, user-friendly instruments for radon measurement.

Increased demand for radon measurement

The need for reliable and flexible field instruments has increased as more and more homes and workplaces show increased levels of radon.
In the case of a radon inspection, the user normally searches for the leakage of radon and therefore needs an instrument that can quickly display the correct radon content. Therefore, there is sometimes a need to measure the variation of radon every minute and in various contexts to clarify daytime variations. In this circumstance, ATMOS makes the radon consultant’s everyday life easier and more efficient.

Fast and reliable measurement reports

ATMOS is unique because it is the most sensitive and lightest instrument that can be used both in the field and in a laboratory.
– Thanks to its light compact format and general portability, ATMOS can easily be taken out for radon inspection of properties. The updated software makes it very easy to extract data and quickly create reliable measurement reports. The latest version of ATMOS enables radon consultants to conduct considerably more measurements compared to other instruments on the market in a 24 hour period, says Patrik Starck, technical physicist and Radonova’s development manager.
– Compared to previous versions, the instrument has essentially been completely redesigned. The only part that remains is the measuring chamber. That particular part is based on a proven technique and it is doubtful whether you can improve the design, continues Patrik Starck.

Growing international market

Previous versions of ATMOS have mainly been delivered and used in Sweden. With increased international demand, Radonova has scaled production at the company’s plant in Uppsala.
– It is of course gratifying when we now see clear demand outside Sweden. The new ATMOS has been launched after several years of research and development. The positive response from the market is an acknowledgment that more and more people and businesses are seeing the benefits of the instrument, comments Karl Nilsson, CEO, Radonova Laboratories.

New ATMOS specifications:

  • Light and compact, simplifying field work
  • Weight: 4.5 kg Size: 290 x 190 x 200 mm (W x H x D)
  • New software enables fast and secure measurement reports
  • The pulsation chamber has high sensitivity and a fast response time
  • Chirp function – listens to how high the content is in confined spaces
  • Communication to PC via USB
  • > 10 year history for measurement data

The basic version of ATMOS costs SEK 89,450 excluding VAT.

Risks with radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when the substance Uran238 decomposes. Thereafter, the radon gas, in turn, decomposes into radond daughters. Radon daughters are radioactive metal atoms that get stuck in our airways during inhalation. When this disintegration occurs, radiation is emitted from the radon daughters that can damage the cells in our airways and lungs. In the worst case, they can cause cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3-14 percent of all lung cancer cases are caused by radon depending on where you live. Therefore, WHO recommends a radon level limit of 100 Bq/m3.

ATMOS product description

ATMOS has a built-in dehumidification to ensure that the moisture content of the air does not interfere with the measurement. The dehumidifier works in saturated moisture at temperatures up to 40ºC. 40 degrees C. ATMOS also shows a table of the 10 latest measured levels per selected integration time. To each calculated radon measurement the user is presented with the associated uncertainty in measurement. The dehumidification of the air in ATMOS takes place automatically and is fully integrated in the instrument. The atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity of the air are shown in the display and stored together with each measurement. Due to the fact that the measurement value is displayed directly at a new measurement, the user does not have to wait for the end of the measuring cycle.
ATMOS includes software for analyzing measurement data. The display is a 3.5 ? touch screen that shows the radon content in Bq/m³, the uncertainty since the start time of the measurement, integration time, measurement time, time and date. In addition, a field storage bag with detachable lid, 24VDC mains adapter and 3 meter hose with instrument adapter are included. The readout and reporting software works in Windows and is included with the instrument. The software is used to read out stored measurement data to evaluate time variations and energy spectrum. In addition, the software is compatible with older versions of Windows.
The instrument measures the alpha decay of radon and its daughters and is completely insensitive to gamma radiation. The alpha energies of the different isotopes are detected and the radon concentration is displayed in a touch display on the instrument. The user selects the desired integration time, the longer the time the more accurate the measurement. The measurement energy spectrum is stored every 10 minutes during the measurement and always gives the user the opportunity to quality-assure the measurement data. A measurement value is displayed directly at a new measurement and the user does not have to wait.

More information about new ATMOS is available here»
More information on radon and radon measurement can be found here»

British Columbia Lung Association to Provide Radonova’s Test Kits for Home, Workplace and School Radon Monitoring

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Through its partnership with Radon Environmental, the British Columbia Lung Association (BCLA) is providing Radonova’s radon detectors to consumers to offer a fast, efficient, and accurate way to find out if your home, school or workplace has potentially hazardous indoor radon levels. The detectors supplied by the BCLA gives the public the option of choosing either a short or long-term test kit. All test kits provided are recognized by Health Canada and C-NRPP certified. This news follows on from The Lung Association – Ontario also announcing that it would be offering Radonova’s state-of-the-art radon monitors to the general public.

“The air you breathe, regardless of where you live or work, is important to your health. The BC Lung Association is committed to protecting your breathing and that’s why we are excited about being able to offer a variety of radon test kits for the public,” said Christopher Lam, President & CEO of the BC Lung Association.

The two alpha track radon detection devices the BCLA will be making available to the public are Rapidos and Radtrak². Rapidos is a short-term radon measurement test kit that captures a measurement of radon levels over a 10-30 day period. Measurement reports are available from Radonova’s laboratory within 1-2 weeks after the laboratory has received the detectors.

Both accurate and flexible, Rapidos is one of the most effective and flexible ways to measure radon in residential buildings, workplaces and schools.

Radtrak² is Radonova’s flagship long-term radon test kit and tests home’s and workplaces for radon over a sustained period, as encouraged by Health Canada. With ultra-high accuracy over a prolonged period of time, it provides a full and clear perspective on the risk of radon exposure in the tested location.

Radon is an invisible, odourless and tasteless gas that can accumulate to unnaturally high and dangerous levels in homes and workplaces. Young people and children are more vulnerable to radiation as they have higher respiratory rates than adults. However, consumer knowledge on how to detect Radon and meaningfully reduce exposure is still relatively low.

Bill Rounds, President at Radonova, said: “Our work with the various Lung Associations in Canada highlights that the general public and businesses are gradually becoming more aware of the dangers of radon. Radon is a global health problem that is estimated to cause 230,000 cases of lung cancer each year¹. A recent report by the World Health Organization states that radon should be regarded as a carcinogen on a par with tobacco smoke². The technologies we offer ensure customers are receiving a reliable, high quality measurement that will aide in helping individuals make decisions about their home’s indoor air quality. Living with high radon is truly an unnecessary health risk. Elevated radon levels in the home can easily be reduced, but you have to test to know.”

Radon Environmental President & CEO, Alan Whitehead commented: “We’re delighted to have expanded our Radon Testing Device and Service Agreement with the British Columbia Lung Association, to provide our extended range of Radonova short term (Rapidos) and long term (Radtrak²) alpha track radon detection devices. We supply many local health authorities and public testing initiatives across Canada and our partnership with the BCLA will lead to increased public awareness and radon testing in British Columbia. Radtrak² has the largest range of detection of any alpha track device and the Radonova laboratory is the only ISO17025 certified alpha track testing facility of its kind, so our clients can be confident in the lab analysis and its QA process. One of the features that our clients like the most is RadOnline, Radonova’s online customer portal. Through MyPages, customers can easily input measurement data, retrieve reports, and have an overview on every project, in real-time.”

To learn more about radon testing and to purchase a test kit, BC residents can visit here. Short and long-term radon tests include delivery of confidential lab test results.
Radonova is the laboratory of choice for numerous government radon surveys, as well as other public and private sector large scale measurement contracts around the world. A truly global laboratory, Radonova is active in over 50 countries and has performed millions of measurements.

For more information on radon and radon measurement visit click here.
For more information, please contact Bill Rounds, President of Radonova
Phone: +1.331.814.2201, E-mail: bill.rounds@radonova.com

¹ Environmental Health Perspectives, 31 May 2018, https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP2503.
² World Health Organisation, ‘Guidelines on Housing and Health’, 27 November 2018, https://www.who.int/sustainable-development/publications/housing-health-guidelines/en/.

Busy Times in the Radonova Lab – Nearly 30,000 Detectors Analyzed in One Week

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May always equates to a seasonal peak for Radonova. This year, the world’s leading radon laboratory beat previous records for the number of detectors analyzed in one week. Oscar Wännerud who is responsible for Radonova’s laboratory, comments on the season high:

– In May, we enter our most intensive period when it comes to incoming deliveries of radon detectors. In many countries, the radon measurement season ends at the end of April, resulting in a peak of incoming detectors. This year we peaked in the third week of May when we analyzed a total of 29,626 detectors. It is a historical record for Radonova and another acknowledgment that we are the world leader in radon measurement and analysis.

Maintaining quality standards and rapid analysis in the face of increased digitization

– One of the biggest challenges during this part of the season is to keep the analysis time down. This was achieved even though there were huge volume pressures on the laboratory. It’s worth stating that customers should register their information via My pages. By doing so, they are guaranteed to get the shortest possible analysis time. – At our laboratory we have a committed and competent workforce with extensive experience in the radon industry, increased digitization and automation means that we are scaling-up our operations but never at the expense of quality. – As a service we are constantly evolving and questioning established routines. We believe it is always possible to improve processes to ensure smoother operations.

The significance of new legislation

Since the EU’s new Radiation Protection Directive (2013/59/Euratom) began to be applied in 2018, Europe’s employers have become responsible for controlling the radon content in workplaces.

– We have seen a clear increase in the number of companies measuring radon in the work environment. Given the health risks that elevated radon levels causes, it feels good to be part of a team that is ensuring that fewer people are exposed to high radon levels. Remember it is easy to measure radon, both for private individuals and employers. Our customer service team is always keen to speak to anyone who has questions or is uncertain about how to go about conducting a test.

Read more about radon and its risks here»

Intercomparison test: Radonova receives high marks from PHE

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Radonova Laboratories has achieved outstanding results in a preliminary comparative reference test performed by the state-owned PHE (Public Health England). The intercomparison tests were performed at five different radon levels – Radonova participated with two different types of detectors for each exposure. In all ten cases, Radonova’s results differed by less than 4% from the respective reference value.
During the reference test, radon detectors were exposed to different levels of radon. The results are then compared to the official reference values as dictated by PHE. Radonova’s detector Duotrak had a particularly small deviation where three out of five tests deviated by less than one per cent from the reference value.

Demanding test

“For several years, Radonova has regularly been involved in this type of comparative reference test. We are consistently given high marks but are still very pleased by the fact that this is probably our best result so far. It feels particularly good when we are constantly working on developing and refining our radon detectors as well as instruments and measuring methods,” said Radonova Laboratories CEO, Karl Nilsson.
“PHE’s comparative reference test is among the most demanding in the industry. It tests both low and high exposures which places particularly high demands on reliability. We are always looking to offer our customers the highest quality technology and take this as an acknowledgment that we continue to be at the forefront of the market for radon measurements,” comments Bill Rounds, President of Radonova.
The radon detectors were subjected to exposure between 137 – 2180 kBqh/m3. PHE is expected to publish the report towards the end of 2019.

For more information on radon and radon measurements visit www.radonova.com.
For more information, please contact Bill Rounds, President of Radonova
Phone: +1.331.814.2201, E-mail: bill.rounds@radonova.com

Canadian radon project chooses Radonova for analysis of radon samples

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Swedish Radonova Laboratories has been commissioned to analyse radon samples in the major Canadian campaign “Evict Radon”. This campaign aims to reduce the incidence of radon in Canadian homes and lung cancer as a consequence of long-term exposure to radon gas. This campaign being conducted in the province of Alberta is headed by Dr Aaron Goodarzi at the University of Calgary.

Radon is measured for at least 90 days and analysed at Radonova’s laboratory. The results will form the basis for continued studies on how radon exposure affects the environment and the health of residents. The project involves doctors, biologists, geologists, architects and experts from a number of other fields. It is estimated that in parts of the province of Alberta, one in six homes is affected by radon. And every day one resident is diagnosed with lung cancer caused by radon.

May become a template for similar projects

“We are naturally proud that such a large and important project has chosen Radonova as its partner for analysis of its radon measurements. At the same time, we know that Radonova is the only operator with global ISO certification. We currently occupy a very prominent position when it comes to radon measurement and analysis. In this role we always want to play an active part in the work of reducing unhealthy exposure to radon. The Evict Radon campaign seems particularly important, as it is comprehensive and well planned. This means in turn that after the campaign has ended it can act as a template for similar projects,” says Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

After smoking, radon is the most common cause of lung cancer. This makes radon a serious global health problem that every year leads to around 230,000 cases of lung cancer.

For further information about the Evict Radon campaign, visit Evict radon

For further information about radon and radon measurement, visit our FAQ

evict radon

Radon maps don’t show radon levels in a specific building

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‘Radon maps’ is a term that frequently crops up when talking about the risk of radon. A radon map provides a general picture of the areas where there is a risk of high radon levels. These maps are available at both national and regional level. The problem with radon maps is, however, that they are a very blunt tool for anyone wanting to find out about radon levels in a specific building.

Despite this, Radonova is seeing a growing number of cases where private individuals and workplaces are using radon maps to try to determine the radon level in their specific indoor environment.

“Radon maps are designed to be used when you want a more general geographic breakdown of low-risk and high-risk zones. It is, however, very difficult to draw any reliable conclusions from these about radon levels inside a particular building,” comments Karl Nilsson, CEO of Radonova Laboratories.

“The relevant authorities and experts often have good knowledge of the applications for which radon maps can be used. Problems tend to arise when the general public draw conclusions from the maps about radon levels in their own home.”

This is why radon maps do not show radon levels in a specific building

Below are some of the reasons why radon maps are not a reliable tool for determining radon levels in a specific building.

Radon maps do not show local variations

When producing a radon map, very few measurements are performed per square kilometre. Radon levels can vary significantly in such a large area and also markedly between buildings on the same street. Radon levels indoors largely depend on the building’s construction and the air permeability of the soil, which can vary widely locally.

There is no standard for the production of radon maps

To produce a radon map, measurement data is either obtained by measuring ground radon levels or using data from indoor measurements in the area. With ground radon measurement there is no clear link between the level of radon in the ground and indoor radon levels. There is certainly an increased risk with high ground radon levels, but other factors, such as construction technology, can have a greater impact. However, if the radon map is based on indoor measurements, then the results are therefore heavily dependent on the type of building structure where the measurement was recorded. This in turn need not be relevant in any way for another building close by.

Radon can be emitted by building materials

In a country like Sweden the use of blue lightweight concrete is a clear example of how a building material comes into play when measuring radon levels. In Sweden around 15 per cent of all elevated radon values are caused by blue lightweight concrete. A radon map, however, does not take into account the material used in a building.

The maps can be generated from old measured values

Measured radon levels are to some extent ‘perishable’. A measurement taken 15 years ago, for example, is no longer reliable. A lot may have happened over the years in and around the building in question to change radon levels. Modernisations, changes to ventilation and groundwork are just a few examples of factors that can have a major impact on indoor radon levels. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority recommends performing a new measurement every 10 years.

“With this in mind, you shouldn’t rely on radon maps if you want to know what the radon levels are in a specific building. Even if you live in an area that is defined on the radon map as a low-risk zone, there may still be very high radon levels indoors. Given that radon, after smoking, is the most common cause of lung cancer, there is every reason not to rely on this type of map when trying to determine radon levels in the home and at workplaces,” concludes Karl Nilsson.

Measure in the building

The only way to get a reliable picture of radon levels in indoor air is to measure them. This can be done in an affordable manner using radon detectors. Radon maps still have a role to play, however, as they can provide the authorities with an overview that makes it easier to prioritise inspection efforts.

Radon map

COIRA chooses radon detectors from Radonova for major international study

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Radonova Laboratories will be providing radon detectors to a major international study to be run by COIRA (the Coalition of International Radon Associations). The aim of the project is to compare radon measurement results obtained by the world’s leading monitoring institutions in the field of radiation protection. The project started in August 2018 and will run for two years.

“This is a very important project. It will help us towards a more consistent way of working and greater precision in our work on radon measurements. COIRA provides a forum for the collective global expertise on radon. We are pleased to be an active part of this forum in terms of both measuring equipment and knowledge,” says Karl Nilsson, a member of the board of COIRA and CEO of Radonova Laboratories.
coira

Radonova’s radon specialist José-Luis Gutiérrez Villanueva is a member of the project committee. He is there as an expert and representative of ERA (the European Radon Association), one of the project’s scientific coordinators (COIRA). Gutiérrez Villanueva is also involved in the work of analysing the data collected.

“Such a comprehensive comparative study means that we can expect to have access to reference tools within a few years.  This will make radon monitoring safer and more effective,” he explains.

COIRA was formed in 2015 and has five member associations: ERA (the European Radon Association), AARST (the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists), CARST (the Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists), UKRA (the UK Radon Association) and NGRA (the Nordic Group of Radon Associations).

For more information on the project, visit www.coiraradon.com.

You can read more about Radonova here.