In this study three methods for the determination of the radon (222Rn) exhalation rate of building materials are compared. All three are so-called purge-and-trap methods in which the sample is enclosed in a container from which the exhaled radon is continuously purged by a constant flow of nitrogen gas. The outflowing radon is directed through a trapping agent, and the radon exhalation rate is subsequently calculated from the trapped activity. The main differences between the three methods are the trapping agent (silica gel, charcoal), trapping temperature (liquid nitrogen, room temperature), trapping period (30 min to 10 d), analytical method to determine the trapped activity (liquid scintillation counting, gamma ray spectrometry, total gamma counting) and the sample counting times (1 to 16 h). The repeatability and intralaboratory reproducibility are determined for one of the methods and amount to 3.1% and 4.3%, respectively. The intralaboratory reproducibility, derived from five samples with a radon release rate up to 450 μBq s−1, was found to be 5.6% on average (range 3 to 8%). These figures are close to the combined standard uncertainty of the individual results that vary between 3 to 6%, depending on the method and method variables such as trapping period and the uncertainty of the calibration source. Furthermore, another 10 commercially available building materials were analyzed to investigate the correlation between the applied methods. Using linear regression analysis, it was found that the slope deviated not more than 10% from the one to one correspondence line. The results show that measurements of the exhalation rate can be carried out with a large degree of accuracy provided sufficient care is taken for a well-documented standard method.
* Nuclear Research and consultancy Group (NRG), P.O. Box 9034, 6800 ES Arnhem, The Netherlands; † NMi Van Swinden Laboratorium, P.O. Box 80.000, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands; ‡ Kernfysisch Versneller Instituut (KVI), Zernikelaan 25, 9747 AA Groningen, The Netherlands; § Deceased.
For correspondence or reprints contact: P. de Jong, Nuclear Research and consultancy Group (NRG), P.O. Box 9034, 6800 ES Arnhem, The Netherlands, or email at email@example.com.
(Manuscript received 5 April 2004; revised manuscript received 22 July 2004, accepted 21 September 2004)